Human urine is about 96 percent water and four percent waste products, but there are more than 3,000 compounds that are found in the fluid. Army scientists are experimenting with producing hydrogen from urine. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army, photo by David McNally, ARL Public Affairs)
Scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory observed an unexpected result when combining urine with a newly engineered nano-powder based on aluminum. It instantly releases hydrogen from the urine at much higher rate than with ordinary water.
The research team announced earlier this summer that a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder they were developing produced pure hydrogen when coming into contact with water. The researchers observed a similar reaction when adding their powder to any liquid containing water.
“What we do as Army scientists is develop materials and technology that will directly benefit the soldier and enhance their capabilities,” said Dr. Kristopher Darling, an ARL researcher. “We developed a new processing technique to synthesize a material, which spontaneously splits water into hydrogen.”
Hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, has the potential to power fuel cells and provide energy to future soldiers.
Fuel cells generate electricity quietly, efficiently and without pollution. According to a Department of Energy’s website, fuel cells are “more energy-efficient than combustion engines and the hydrogen used to power them can come from a variety of sources.”
In space, astronauts recycle waste water and urine because drinking water is a precious commodity. For soldiers in austere environments, there are many precious commodities. Power and energy is becoming increasingly important to run communications and electronics gear for away teams, which can’t be resupplied.
Making use of urine as fuel source may result in tremendous benefits for soldiers, officials said.
The team is working closely with other researchers at the laboratory, including the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, to discover how to harness the material as a potential energy source.
About this Publication:
All information regarding non-federal, third party entities posted on the HDIAC website shall be considered informational, aimed to advance the Department of Defense (DoD) Information Analysis Center (IAC) objective of providing knowledge to the Government, academia, and private industry. Through these postings, HDIAC’s goal is to provide awareness of opportunities to interact and collaborate. The presence of non-federal, third party information does not constitute an endorsement by the United States DoD or HDIAC of any non-federal entity or event sponsored by a non-federal entity. The appearance of external hyperlinks in this publication and reference herein to any specific commercial products, processes, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or HDIAC. HDIAC is a DoD sponsored IAC, with policy oversight provided by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD (R&E)), and administratively managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). For permission and restrictions on reprinting, please contact email@example.com. Any views or opinions expressed on this website do not represent those of HDIAC, DTIC, or the DoD.