Some media are awash with news of this remarkable technology that promises to provide energy for lighting in refugee camps and make hydrogen-powered engines more efficient. It may even go to Mars.

“Urinal at University of the West of England can generate electricity to power indoor lighting, which Oxfam says show potential for use in refugee camps: The Guardian

“A prototype toilet has been launched on a UK university campus to prove that urine can generate electricity, and show its potential for helping to light cubicles in international refugee camps.

“Students and staff at the Bristol-based University of the West of England are being asked to use the working urinal to feed microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power indoor lighting.”

Other uses have been reported previously. In 2013 “UK Scientists Create World’s First Pee-Powered Cell Phone”

In 2012 four African young women created “A Urine Powered Generator: (Maker Fairer Africa)

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.”

And in 2014 “Professor wants to send ‘pee power’ to Mars: USA Today. Professor Gerardine Botte…director of Ohio University’s Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research, said she realized that hydrogen and water could be extracted from urine while working on fuel-cell technology in 2002. The fuel-grade hydrogen can be used to power an iPod or a small electronic device.”

This is not the first time that something cheap and useful seems to give hope for those in need of technology for basic needs. In the past some of such advances have quietly “disappeared” from the news, suggesting vested interests at work. The best way to stop something like that happening is to spread the good news and report on these advances as they happen. Surely the fact that Bill and Melinda Gates are investing on it must give some reassurance. Or does it?