Four Nigerian teenage girls invent urine-powered generator

Four Nigerian teenage girls invent urine-powered generator

Four Nigerian teenage girls have invented a power generator which can use a litre of urine to produce six hours of electricity.

The girls - Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and Bello Eniola displayed the invention at the annual event Maker Faire Africa, held in Lagos.

According to the girls, the idea of using urine as fuel was not new but Adeola, Abiola, Oluwatoyin and Eniola came up with a practical way to put the idea into action and many households can utilise it.

RusselSmith, a leading provider of Integrated Energy Solutions disclosed this, adding that Adebola, a 14-year-old said the idea of using urine to produce electricity started when she read an article about a family of five who lost their lives.

She said that the family members died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning as they inhaled fumes emanating from their generator while asleep.

She said she was worried by the incident thinking about how she could help to prevent similar occurences from happening in the future concluding that the way out was to find another power source that does not release carbon monoxide.

Adebola said she related the idea with her three friends -  Abiola, Oluwatoyin who are also 14-years-old and Eniola, a 15-year-old.

The four friends named themselves "Fantastic Four" and began their journey to develop a solution which later on became successful and celebrated even on a global scale.

The Fantastic Four stated that they told their science teacher, Olaide Lawal, about their idea, who encouraged them that the indication was possible.

With this inspiration, the teen girls began experimenting with possible materials that could produce power instead of relying on carbon. They said that it dawned on them that rocket engines run on hydrogen.

According to the girls, the premise of their invention was that if hydrogen was the raw material in their generator, the end product would be water. The team said after they experimented with water, they encountered a hurdle.

The team revealed that because water produces low hydrogen, they concluded that if they electrolysed water, the generator would lose 1.25 volts per cycle.

Adebola said she suggested to the team that they should experiment with a material with no cost anything but will generate the power needed to run domestic activity. It was at this point that the team considered the idea of using urine as the source of raw material.

Adebola mentioned that they initially built a system consisting of an electrolytic cell, which consisted of an old car battery. The system also had filters and pipes as well as an empty gas storage tank.

"We then reconfigured our petrol-based generator and carried out our first experiment - and then we faced another huge challenge as the cell exploded," the girls said.

"We kept on checking our process and setup until Mr. Lawal pointed out our error: The hydrogen-oxygen gas mixture was returning to the cell. We then inserted one-way valves into the pipes to ensure a one-directional flow of the gas mixture, and it worked," they added.

The Fantastic Four said when they first exhibited their invention publicly, people did not have hope it would work. But they remained determined and made improvements to it. They gained national attention when they exhibited their invention once again at the Maker Faire Africa in 2012.

Since the exhibition, the Fantastic Four has earned both national and international awards for their urine-powered generators. The Lagos State government also expressed the desire to fund the invention to be developed on a large scale for it to be used in homes.

The teen girls expressed their gratitude to their school, Doregos Private Academy stating that they provided the funding, transportation, and moral support for them to pursue the dream.


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