Belgian pilot project converts pig urine into ‘green’ hydrogen

The municipality of Flobecq, in the province of Hainaut in Belgium, and the Materia Nova research center have started a pilot project on a farm in Flobecq. The project’s goal is to convert pig urine into hydrogen via electrocatalysis. The process has already been tested in the laboratory with synthetic urine and will now be investigated in actual conditions.

The project aims to generate green energy from liquid organic waste –pig urine collected on farms. Using electrocatalysis, the urine is extracted from the manure and separated into hydrogen and other valuable products, such as purified, non-potable water and natural fertilizers. The solid part of the manure can be used to make biomethane.

650,000 liters of urine

The pigs on the Hainaut farm produce 650,000 liters of urine annually, which could produce almost 30 tons of green hydrogen annually. According to the researchers, this process could allow pig farms to reduce their carbon footprint by 20%. In other words, if everything were transformed into hydrogen, 50 vehicles could travel 30,000 kilometers annually.

However, similar things could also be done with human urine. In 2012, Ejikeme Patrick Nwosu, a Nigerian inventor, scientist, and chemist at Lumos Laboratories, started experimenting with similar projects, converting human urine into hydrogen-rich gases used to generate clean, renewable electricity. The by-products are converted into organic fertilizer and fire-retardant paints.

‘Most abundant waste product’

“Urine is the most abundant waste product on earth,” Ejikeme Patrick Nwosu explains. “The average adult passes a liter of urine daily, and we harness this waste product for renewable energy.”

“We collect urine through our Urine Diverting Toilet at our prototype functional pilot plant in Nigeria’s Federal Capital. In the UDT, an opening diverts urine to underground storage. From storage, the urine is pumped into our reactor. The more urine we get, the more gas we produce and the more electricity generated. Our idea is that once we mass produce the Urine Diverting Toilet, we advertise and encourage people to install them at home, where we will pick them up and pay for the urine collected. Another idea is erecting such urinals in public spaces like parks and markets for this purpose.”


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