Lagos — It's ironic that Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, suffers from frequent fuel and power shortages. But four school girls have found a solution from an unlikely source: urine.
Most Nigerians have to rely on generators because of the epileptic power supply. Many businesses have also closed down because they cannot afford to buy expensive fuel from the black market to power their generators.
Faced with this problem, four teenagers from the Doregos Private Academy School in Lagos developed a generator powered by urine.
"We noticed that many Nigerians, [those whose] businesses depend on a power supply have virtually been put out of business because of the high cost of power, so we decided to make a device that will reduce this problem. We noticed that waste products can be used to generate energy that is why we decided to experiment on urine," said Eniola Bello, one of the students.
The generator is powered by hydrogen and oxygen formed from urine stored in a compartment attached to the generator.
Adebola Duro-Aina, another student, said six litres of urine can power the small generator for 36 hours.
"This urine is being electrolysed, releasing hydrogen and oxygen gas, and this then goes into our gas tank. Our gas tank here stores the gases, and anytime we need the gas we can open up the gas tank and release the gas and our generator is powered."
When the girls power up the generator, the light bulbs in the room lit up.
"The generator powers everything in the house," one of the girls said. "We were so excited, we were so happy once the generator started working."
The girls say they were frustrated with growing up in an environment where they cannot read at night or watch their favourite television program because of the irregular power supply. The invention of this urine powered generator comes at a time when the Nigerian government is under increasing pressure to address the country's electricity problems.