London: Human urine may one day be used to generate power for vehicles and homes, according to a new study which found that pee could be the future of carbon fuel-cell technology.
Scientists from Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, have demonstrated that carbon, a precious fuel cell material, can be extracted from dried urine and that it is a powerful conductor of electricity.
Fuel cells - devices which harvest energy from a chemical reaction - often use platinum as a catalyst, making them expensive to produce.
Researchers found that doped collections of carbon atoms recovered from human urine have the right kind of properties to replace expensive catalysts in fuel cell applications, `theregister.Co.Uk` reported.
In the study, scientists collected urine samples from healthy individuals and heated them to evaporate the water, leaving behind a dried, yellowish deposit.
Next, they super-heated various test samples of dried urine in a range between 700 and 1,000 degrees Celsius for six hours to carbonise the urine.
The heating process caused salts and other elements to gasify and leave behind carbon, according to `Discover Magazine (blog)`.
Urine is loaded with other elements besides carbon, which makes the leftover carbon highly porous - ideal for fuel cell catalysts.
The urine carbon was an excellent conductor of electricity, especially the batch that was heated to 1,000 degrees. Researchers said this is the first time carbon was extracted from urine using this simple method.
The research was published in the journal Nature.