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For the first time, a working direct urea and direct urine fuel cell has been developed to generate electricity directly from urea or urine.
Urea is a non-toxic chemical and is widely used as an inexpensive fertiliser. Urea is also a major component in waste water and human/animal urine. Urea has a high energy density (two times higher than compressed hydrogen at 700 bar and about 70% higher than liquid hydrogen), and is therefore useful as an alternative energy vector and an indirect hydrogen storage material. AdBlue, a urea solution used for removal of NOx in diesel powered vehicles is widely available throughout the world using existing infrastructure.
Here, for the first time, we demonstrate the operation of direct urea and direct urine fuel cells. These fuel cells are based on an alkaline membrane electrolyte and non-noble catalysts. Operation of a urea/urine fuel cell will make it possible to convert the chemical energy in urea/urine into electricity.
This type of fuel cell has the potential to be used for portable, transport and other applications to generate power from urine, waste water, fertiliser urea and commercial urea such as AdBlue.