The Yomiuri ShimbunOSAKA — A fuel cell that can power an LED for several hours with just a small amount of urine has been developed by a university professor in Osaka, it has been learned.
Created by Keiichi Kaneto, a visiting professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology, the fuel cell is small enough to be portable. It might therefore be used as a light source when climbing mountains or in times of disaster.
The idea had existed of using urea — a component of urine — to generate power, as urea contains hydrogen, which is required for fuel cells. However, a method had not been found to effectively promote chemical reactions.
Kaneto made a sheet about one millimeter thick that can generate electricity by coating a resin on a cloth that contains an alloy of copper and nickel. The sheet reacted to a few drops of urine, and a small blue LED was illuminated for two hours with enough brightness to illuminate a person’s hands in the dark when four sheets were connected in series.
The fuel cell can generate electric power with drops of orange or lemon juice as well, Kaneto said.
“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.” he said.
Prof. Kenji Miyatake, who specializes in macromolecular chemistry at Yamanashi University’s Clean Energy Research Center, 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. With some improvements, it can be used in a wide variety of ways.”Speech