Army researchers have unexpectedly stumbled upon a way to use urine as fuel, and this discovery could change the way military vehicles are fueled while out in the field. Scientists from a military laboratory have found a way to use urine to provide power, as power is something that is hard to come by when in remote locations.
According to Fox News, soldiers who are deployed on a 72-hour mission in the field are required to carry a provision load that weighs in at more than 80 pounds. About 15 pounds of that load is typically batteries. This new technique will allow soldiers to use their own urine while out in the field to power the devices they need during these missions.
The goal is to have soldiers produce their own electricity in future war zones by doing something that comes quite naturally and quite frequently — peeing. Urine can be used to power drones, night vision devices, laptops, and communications equipment in lieu of the heavy batteries.
A U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has developed a way to make urine into fuel that has endless possibilities for the future. This could also be used on a larger scale with fuel cells that could feasibly power military vehicles and eventually an entire military base.
Just how does this work?
Urine contains hydrogen, and it is the hydrogen that the scientists need to create the power used to fuel military devices such as night vision and military vehicles. A special aluminum nano-power developed by the ARL team will extract hydrogen when added to the urine.
According to Fox News, “In under three minutes, one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the powder can produce 220 kilowatts of power from urine.”
Hydrogen offers an “enormous potential to power fuel cells,” cites Fox News. This formula for turning urine into hydrogen to generate power also generates water and heat. So, in reality, this offers three major necessities that can be utilized by the military.
The importance of pee vs. hydrogen from other sources
According to the military scientists, while hydrogen is readily available from a variety of sources as it is a natural element, it is this new delivery system through urine that will lighten the military’s load immensely.
Batteries, which are used today, go dead and need to be charged. But fuel cells will deliver endless energy as long as there is hydrogen available.
As Fox News suggests, “One thing a soldier would always have access to in any war zone, anywhere in the world, no matter how remote and isolated… is urine.”
The ability for this aluminum nano-power to extract hydrogen out of urine was discovered after the fact. Scientists first discovered it could extract hydrogen from water, which alone has implications for the future. However, soldiers in the field may find that water is also at a minimum.
Scientists then discovered that this substance will extract hydrogen from other liquids that contain water, including pee. According to Phys.org, they also discovered that this substance used to extract the hydrogen from water, “releases hydrogen from the urine at much higher rate than with ordinary water.”
While carrying water into the field is a heavy load to bear, urine is generated naturally by the soldiers, so using the urine will lighten the load significantly.
This discovery can save lives in a roundabout way, suggests Fox News. Soldiers on a military base that is in a war-torn country risk their lives on a daily basis. Using urine for fuel could do away with soldiers needing to truck in the fuel to keep their base generated with power, saving them from trips through dangerous areas where they might be targeted for an attack or roll over an IED.
Scientists on this military team are working on this project, and they also have other projects in the works when it comes to readily available resources in the field.
Fox News reports, “The team is continuing to advance and also looking at how other fluids readily available to a soldier downrange could be harnessed – including saliva.”
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