At the beginning, the researchers mixed water with aluminum powder they previously created to produce hydrogen, which can be used to charge fuel cells. The scientist from research group stated that they were focusing on being able to make use of a fluid that can be accessed or carried by military personnel along with a fuel cells that can power all their electronic devices. But at some point they discovered that they could use an entirely different liquid to replace the water. One that can be accessed by anyone with ease.
They had added the aluminum powder to the synthetic urine and this resulted in a more rapid and violent reaction as compared to water. So, now scientists can produce energy from urine.
Although the scientists in the laboratory have been using synthetic urine in their tests, they say that real pee will react similarly, because synthetic urine has absolutely identical chemical composition.
Chemical reaction between aluminum-based powder and artificial pee was faster than when water was used in the experiment, because there are some chemical compounds and electrolytes are present in urine. Moreover, the pH of urine is a bit acidic, and this factor is another reason why the reaction was so rapid and violent.
The researchers demonstrated how this reaction powers a radio-controlled tank and they say that it can power a lot of other things. For example, soldiers could charge with it any devices used for communication, satellite connection or GPS location.
And this energy is completely environmentally friendly. The byproduct of the reaction of water and aluminum-based powder is aluminum oxide or hydroxide. Both substances are non-toxic and can be disposed off anywhere without causing devastating effects to the environment.
Also, the reaction is very quiet, what is significant advantage in army. Special forces need to keep their location secret, so having something on them that can be readily used for the generation of power without any noise is very useful.
Another benefit, researchers say, is that soldiers do not have to carry around additional weight. They could find water in the field, for example from lakes, rivers, and rains. Moreover, their bodily fluids such as saliva and urine can be used as well.
The scientists hope that in future this technology will be used to generate power not just for soldiers, but for all people throughout the world.