Picture this; you’re driving down some long, flat, dusty road on your way to the Middle of Nowhere when your car suddenly runs out of fuel. You haven’t passed a fuel station in a hundred miles, and you’re at least half as far from your destination still. Well what if you could just get out of your car, unzip your fly (at least for us lads) and fill your car up with your bodies own natural emissions?
Sounds pretty science fiction and maybe even a little gross. But that is the idea behind at least one entrant’s car in the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, an international challenge for alternative, super-fuel-efficient vehicles. A pee-powered car? Well, why not.
Steven Amendola, a word-reknowned chemist with a long list of publications, accomplishments, and patents is the man behind ZeroFuel. Being developed by his company, Alternative Fuel Sciences, the concept could revolutionize the way we get from point A to B using just P (I couldn’t resist). The idea is centered around the fact that there is a lot of ammonia (NH3) in urea, and within that ammonia is plenty of hydrogen. As we already know, hydrogen can be used for propulsion with existing technology, the biggest problem is the infrastructure. Urea is basically just human urine and it is usually just flushed down the toilet (though it is often used as a fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content). ZeroFuel latches on to the idea that if we can harness the hydrogen components in urea, if would make an effective, sustainable, and easily transportable alt-fuel.
So how does pee become power? Keeping in mind I am but a humble writer and not chemist, ZeroFuel is a mixture of water and carbamide, or urea. Then the ammonia and hydrogen are seperated and injected into the engine. The only emissions are water vapor and nitrogen, the must abundent element in our atmosphere already. The car relies on existing technology to make the process happen, and it can be used on just about any engine.
Who knows, maybe one day gas stations will be but a distant memory, and we’ll all just fill our cars up from home. ZeroFuel also has in the works a home refilling station; I’d like to see the government tax that!