The power of wee: urine could be green energy

| 16th September 2009
A cow having a pee
Urine from both animals and humans could be used to generate hydrogen power
Urine could be used to generate electricity and as a free alternative to mineral fertilisers

Two separate studies have demonstrated the potential of human waste as both an energy source and fertiliser.

Finnish scientists found that human urine together with wood ash could act as an alternative fertiliser for tomatoes.

Surendra Pradhan and his colleagues from the University of Kuopio found that the urine/wood ash combination increased the yields of tomatoes in comparison to non-fertilised plants.

They also produced equal amounts of tomato fruits as mineral fertilised plants without posing any microbial or chemical risks.

Urine power

In a separate development, scientists at Ohio University have developed technology to release hydrogen from ammonia compounds within urine. The hydrogen could be obtained from either human or animal urine.

The gas can then be burned or used in fuel cells to power cars or electrical devices.

The team is now trying to commercialise the technology and bring it to the mass market.

Useful links
Finnish study

See also


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here