US army research scientists have found a way of extracting fuel power from urine that could help soldiers power their technology during operations.

The scientists at US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) developed a way to extract fuel power from urine by combining it with a newly engineered aluminium-based nanopowder.
US army uniforms
Researchers, notes in a Department of Defense report, that adding “nano-galvanic aluminium-based powder” to water resulted in the extraction of pure hydrogen. When mixed with urine, however, it was found that the gas was released at a much higher rate, “almost a twofold increase in the reaction rates”.

This discovery, noted the report, could be used to provide power in the form of fuel cells to soldiers in the field.

“What we do as Army scientists develop materials and technology that will directly benefit the soldier and enhance their capabilities,” said Dr Kristopher Darling, an ARL researcher.

“We have calculated that one kilogram of aluminium powder can produce 220 kilowatts of power in just three minutes,” said Dr Anit Giri, also an ARL researcher.

The report points out that hydrogen-based fuel cells run cleaner, more quietly, and are more energy efficient than combustion engines.

Modern warfare requires soldiers to run communications and other such electronic gear for “away teams” and electricity is not something that can be resupplied.

The report says that research is ongoing and that the team is looking at the compound’s interactions with other bodily fluids like saliva as well as other liquids that might be available to a soldier on the field.