A Japanese professor made a breakthrough when he managed to light an LED for several hours using only a small amount of urine during an experiment conducted on April 18.
The inventor of the portable fuel cell breakthrough, Keiichi Kaneto, a visiting professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology, created this in the hopes that it it could be used by those who are out in nature climbing mountains, or used in times of disaster, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun via The Japan News.
This was achieved by utilizing the power generating potential in urea, which is a component in urine. As explained in the report, urea contains hydrogen that is required for fuel cells.
While this may be the case, it was also noted that a “method had not been found to effectively promote chemical reactions.”
The scientist made a sheet that is said to be about one millimeter thick. This sheet, which is coated by a resin on a cloth that contains alloy of copper and nickel, was able to generate electricity.
The small blue LED was illuminated using only a few drops of urine on the sheet. It can be as bright as illuminating a person’s hands in the dark when four sheets were connected in the series, the report noted.
“If the fabric is made of highly conductive carbon fibers, the output can be increased. I hope the fuel cells will be useful in harsh environments, such as during a disaster.” the professor said.
“There’s never been an idea of using existing materials and resins to create a fuel cell that can be used anytime, anywhere and by anyone,” Kenji Miyatake, a professor who specializes in macromolecular chemistry at Yamanashi University’s Clean Energy Research Center, said. “With some improvements, it can be used in a wide variety of ways.”
Apart from urine, the fuel cell can also generate electricity using drops of orange or lemon juice.