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Proposal for Power Generation Using Urine

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 5942 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Final Project Proposal



1. Introduction:

2. Background and Literature Review:

3. Requirements and Criteria:

4. Proposed design:

4.1 Design layout and module description:

4.2 Urine powered battery:

4.3 Step Down DC/DC convertor LTC3388-3:

4.4 LDR Sensor and Potential Divider Circuit:

4.5 Comparator LM324:

4,6 Transistor Switch (BC547) and Load (LED):

4.7 Full Circuit Design:

4.8 Details of Instruments used in Proposed Design:

4.9 Merits:

5. Cost Analysis:

6. Timeline:

7. Conclusion:

8. Recommendations:





Figure 1: Block diagram of proposed system

Figure 2: Single chamber UPC

Figure 3: diagram of LTC3388

Figure 4: Potential divider circuit

Figure 5: Pin diagram of LM 324

Figure 6: Circuit arrangement of proposed system

Figure 7: Cost of project in CAD




Table 1: Possible output voltage levels from LTC3388-3

Table 2: Details of components used in proposed design

Table 3: Cost associated with the project implementation in details

Table 4: Timeline of project

Executive Summary:

In this fast-developing world, electricity is the basic need for almost everyone. The demand for the energy has increased in recent years and is expected to increase continuously in future. The major conventional sources of power generation are petroleum, natural gas and coal. Being non-renewable these sources are depleting gradually. Also, most of the conventional sources of energy use fossil fuels for generation of energy. The burning of fossil fuels causes many environmental and health issues.  So there is great need to find out an alternate way of energy generation, which is environment-friendly. The main objective of this project is to devise an alternate source that uses renewable and organic matter and is an environmentally friendly way of energy generation.

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Energy harvesting is one of the major areas of research these days.  It focuses on reducing the dependence on non-renewable sources and generating energy from external sources. There are various methods for power generation that come that come under the energy harvesting. Using microbial fuel cell for energy generation is one of the key elements of energy harvesting. Microbial cells are the systems that use bacteria as catalysts to generate the electricity. Electrochemically active bacteria can transfer electrons to the anode that results in the development of the potential difference in the circuit and produce the electricity.

After considering several methods of energy generation and comparing them on the factors like cost, practicality, novelty, applicability and environmental factors, a decision has been made to use urine as the source of energy generation in this project. Being alkaline in nature, the urine will act as a good electrolyte to produce the electricity. After following various researches and literature it has been found that not only human urine but cow urine can also be used as the input matter for urine power battery.

The power generation from urine and making it a urine powered battery (UPB) will be a great move for the betterment of society. This device will revolutionize the world of low powered sensors. UPB can be used for both industrial and domestic purposes. Almost every smart gadget work on low power. UPB possess a wide range of applications for smart gadgets working on low voltage. It can be used to run microcontrollers, integrated chips and sensors used in military field, space, medical field, control engineering and domestic purposes. Most importantly, being dependent on urine, which is an organic matter and pollution free; this is an environmentally friendly product with zero emission.

One of the important features of this project is that the proposed setup is economically viable for almost everyone. The total production cost of the setup is quite low and is just 62 CAD only, making it an affordable product. Moreover, the circuit of the UPB is very simple and the components can be assembled at the home also.

The timeline has been developed in a way that the project can be fully implemented and all the phases can be optimized. The timeline is spread over 87 days in total. The major time is consumed in preliminary approval of the project. The proposed timeline can lead to a very constructive and effective project.

There are also some foreseeable problems associated with this project. This setup can only produce low voltage which can drive only low powered gadgets effectively. It can not be used for heavy voltage devices and household electricity lines.


1. Introduction:

The demand for energy is significantly higher in recent years. The rise in demand will continue to increase, by at least 50% by 2030 [5]. The sources available naturally are solar, tidal, wind, biogas and biomass. There are countries which are in massive need for electricity, hence it is very important to cope up with electricity [5].

The naturally occurred sources available to human beings undergo through many considerations before they are used like availability, extraction costs, feasibility, efficiency, sustainability, conversion costs and economic implications. Hence to make progress in

energy generation many types of research are undergone in search of an alternative source of energy. One such promising alternate source is urine, it is eco-friendly, cost-effective and renewable. An estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine are produced every year which makes it an abundant source of alternate energy [6]. The energy conservation can be made by MFCs(Microbial fuel cells) and the alkalinity of urine makes it a great electrolyte to produce electricity [5].

Usage of urine as an alternative source of energy will revolutionize the world market. The pressure on the usage of fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions will be minimized with the rise of new alternative sources of energy. Urine-powered batteries are not only used to generate electricity but also used in wastewater treatment units and kills dangerous bacteria [5].

2. Background and Literature Review:

Survey based on urine powered battery for low power sensors:

The energy shortage and pollution of the environment have caused a global crisis and have had a serious impact on survival and development [4].

The bacteria could generate current and this was first found by an English botanist Potter in 1911. Until 1980 his finding was not well appreciated, but it was well appreciated after the addition of electron mediators and they improved the output power of MFCs [4].

Oji Akuma, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt worked on the microbial fuel cells by comparing its performance by a change in the diameter of the proton exchange membrane, the semi-permeable membrane which acts as an insulator and reactant barrier. The fuel cells are capable of producing a voltage and current of 0.57 V and 0.11 mA, respectively [4].

Hadagali Ashoka used different electrode materials to enhance the performance of fuel cells using different materials. After his experiments, he found that the Cu-Zn electrode combination obtained a maximum voltage of around 3.5 MV [4].

Urine Powered Batteries have been designed to drive low power sensors. The overall system is made of five modules that are Urine Powered Battery, step down DC/DC converter – LTC3388-3, LDR sensor and potential divider circuit, a comparator (LM324) and Transistor (BC547) and load (LED) [4].

The main advantage of this project is that the containers used for urine power cells (UPC) are made from High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottles. The used plastic bottles are considered garbage but instead are used for this project to generate electricity. This helps in effective utilization of waste plastic bottles [4]. Also, 2.73 litres of urine is required to fill 78 cells in the proposed urine powered battery (UPB) design. This shows that the source is very feasible and cost-effective [4].

The limitations are poor load regulation and low output current. In the case of UPB, the output current is low and load regulation is poor. When a load is connected across UPB, the supply voltage of 19.5 V from UPB drops to 2 V. The solutions of these limitations will be discussed further in a detailed manner [4].


3. Requirements and Criteria:



The cost of the components used to design the urine power battery setup is very little. Most importantly, the input material for the power generation is the natural and organic waste, having almost no cost. Also, the lifespan of components used in the setup is huge, which leads to almost negligible maintenance cost. All these economic factors make the setup an economically efficient and cheaper to run. 


This basic way of energy generation is a very practical method. While most of the conventional sources of energy generation use mechanical motion to generate electricity, this setup uses the organic matter as raw material and electrolytic reactions to produce electricity making it a very practical and user-friendly method of power generation. It can be a practical way to generate electricity in the places where normal electric power has been cut off due to natural disasters. [1]


In the field of energy harvesting, this biomass-derived setup of energy generation is very new [2]. It is a new kind of renewable way of energy generation which is also very cheaper as compared to other methods of energy harvesting.


We are going to device a urine powered battery setup that has a wide range of applications. Being compact, portable and lightweight source; it can act as good utility for soldiers and astronauts [3].With advancement in technology, most of the electronic devices run on low voltage. The proposed setup can be used to run various low powered devices like sensors, microcontrollers and integrated chips which are used in the medical field, military and control engineering. Just by changing the appropriate Integrated Chips, it can be used for running a huge range of low powered devices. For example: digital thermometer, humidity sensor, accelerometer, light sensor, blood glucose meter, cameras and many more.


We are going to design a setup that uses urine for generating the power. Being natural and renewable source of energy generation, this alternative solution will help to reduce the use of natural gas and oil which contributes to reducing carbon footprints.

4. Proposed design:

Our group is present a design which can generate power from the urine for the solution of the energy problem. This design will have a urine powered battery for the low power sensors. This will be a clean source of energy as it generates power from organic waste and it will not have any hazardous by-product.

4.1  Design layout and module description:

Fig. 1 Block diagram of proposed system

4.2  Urine powered battery:

The initial and premier apparatus of our proposed design is Urine powered battery. In the cells of this battery, urine is filled. It is made out of a blended mix of a number of little single chamber Urine Powered Cells. The single chamber Urine Controlled Cell involves anode and cathode terminals plunged in a solitary chamber containing pee. The Plastic straw (Polypropylene) has been utilized to disengage the terminals of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) which has a tendency to diminish the general expense of framework and make it substantially more sparing. The chemical formula for propylene monomer is C3H6. It has been utilized to diminish the expense of the framework.

There are various characterises which has an influence on the result of the UPC. In which, the main parameters are material, size and area of electrodes and volume of urine per cell. Normally, the containers are made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottles. So, this also helps in reducing the waste of plastic bottles. A sample of single chamber UPC is represented in the following figure.

Fig 2:   Single chamber UPC


For the best result for voltage and to reduce the cost of the system, electrode combination (cathode-anode) are of Cu-Zn and Cu-Al, respectively. Because they are cheap and easily available in the market. To gain required current and voltage to run the instruments, a number of UPC’s are connected parallel in series by alligator clips. By this , they are capable to generate 19.5 V.

4.3  Step Down DC/DC convertor LTC3388-3:

In the output of UPB, the current is very low and load regulation is very poor. When the load is connected, the voltage is reduced to 2V from 19.5V. to prevent this and obtain sufficient current and power, a DC/DC converter LTC3388-3 has been used. In the design, the pins D0 and D1 are fastened to high logic, which can give the constant output of 5V

Fig. 3: Diagram of LTC3388

The possible voltage can be gained from this device can be founded below:
















Table 1. Possible output voltage levels from LTC3388-3

4.4  LDR Sensor and Potential Divider Circuit:

The output voltage of LTC3388-3 is used to run the LDR sensor and potential divider circuit. This LDR has been made of Cadmium Sulphide (CdS) material. The potential divider circuit can be shown in the figure. It has two arms. One of them has a Light Dependent Resistor (LDR) with a variable resistor R1 and different has a variable resistor, R2 and fixed resistor R3. The working principle of this LDR sensor is based on the principle of photoconductivity. The reduction in voltage at R1 and R2 is measured by a comparator.

Fig.4: Potential divider circuit

4.5  Comparator LM324:

The reduction in voltage across the changeable resistor is measured using comparator LM324. LM324 is 14 pins integrated chip which is IC. The diagram of LM324 can be shown in the figure. It contains four nondependent elevated gain frequency reimbursed operational amplifiers. The working Vcc is of three number of V-32 V. The operational current required for this LM324 is 1.4mA. The input supply can be moved to one of the four operational amplifiers. The positive or negative output is based on the magnitude of interaction between inverting and non-inverting terminals. 

      Fig. 5: Pin diagram of LM 324 

4.6  Transistor Switch (BC547) and Load (LED): 

To operate the load (LED), the transistor BC547 is used as a switch. The output voltage of LM324 is coupled to a base terminal of BC547. The functioning of the transistor solely depends on the output of the comparator. Load (LED) is placed between emitter and collector junction. The working Vcc supply is passed to the collector terminal.

4.7  Full Circuit Design and working:

Fig. 6: Circuit arrangement of proposed system

The pee fueled battery comprises of a mixture association of UPC’s. The output voltage got from single UPC, having Cu-Zn cathode mix, is 0.7 V to 0.75 V There is 26 number of cells associated in the arrangement, consequently the watched yield voltage was equal to the voltage of single cell times the number of cells associated in the arrangement.

In this manner, the required voltage has been accomplished by connecting cells in series. As clarified in the calculation, with the expansion of numbers of lines in parallel connection, the resistance will reduce and effective supply current will increase. With the end goal to accomplish the coveted current, the two reproductions of the first series of cells are associated in parallel connection.

The production of UPB is connected to step down DC/DC converter LTC3388-3. The step-down DC/DC converter LTC3388-3 can give the consistently managed output voltage of 5V and current of 50 mA. The IC has 11 pins. The following Figure represents that when the output voltage of UPB, having 3 x 26 a framework is connected to LTC3388-3, the voltage at a contribution of LTC3389-3 is 16.94V and the directed voltage at an output of LTC3388-3 is 5V (around).

voltage at input and output of LTC3388-3

The basically watched yield voltage and current have been 5 V and 3 mA. The output voltage and current are adequate to drive the low power gadgets. The output of LTC3388-3 has been connected to the LDR sensor and a potential divider circuit.

the voltage dropping over the non-constant resistors, for consideration in which terminal of the comparator they are associated, the transistor switch will be driven. The voltage drop over the variable resistor, R1 and R2 are associated with altering terminal and the non-altering terminal of comparator LM324, individually. At the point when LDR isn’t presented to light, at that point the voltage drop over the variable resistor, R2 will be more noteworthy than the voltage drop over the variable resistor, R1. Along these lines, the voltage connected to the non-transforming terminal will be more noteworthy, the output of the comparator will go positive. Here we have to give a reference for this paragraph.

The LDR has been utilized as a low power photoconductive sensor. It is a low power sensor since when it presented to light radiations, it builds up a voltage drop of 0.93 V (maximum)and with a current of 131 μA.  Which is represented in following figure.

Voltage drop across LDR when exposed to light radiation     current through LDR when exposed to light radiation

Consequently, LDR can be named as a low power sensor since it works at an intensity of microwatt. Following figure demonstrates the voltage drop across over LDR when it isn’t presented to light radiations. It has been seen that when the LDR isn’t presented to light radiations, the voltage drop across over LDR is 1.79 V.

Voltage drop across LDR when not exposed to light radiations

In CE configuration, the comparator’s output is associated with BC547. The LED is connected with the collector terminal with a voltage supply of 9V. in this scenario when LDR is not represented to light, the output is given by the comparator will be non-positive. Due to this, the transistor will not be able to work and thus, LED will be turned off. On the flip side, when LDR is not represented to light, the output given by the comparator will have the positive value and the transistor will function as a fully-closed circuit. So, the LED will work. So, this proposed system can be used to function the lighting system.

4.8  Details of Instruments used in Proposed Design:




Operating Voltage range = 2.7 V to 20 V

Capacitor, C1

C1 = 1 µF

Capacitor, C2

C2 = 47 µF

Capacitor, C3

C3 = 4.7 µF

Capacitor, C4

C4 = 2.2 µF

Variable Resistor, R1

R1 = 20 kΩ

Variable Resistor, R2

R2 = 20 kΩ

Fixed Resistor, R3

R3 = 20 kΩ


When Exposed, Vexposed = 0.93 V When not exposed, Vunexposed =

1.79 V

Inductor, L Resistance, R Core type Number of Plates

Number of turns of copper wire Number of Layers

L =104 µH

R =170 mΩ

Air Core 0



Transistor (BC547)



Red Colour

Cu-Zn Electrodes

Length = 7 cm to 8 cm Width = 1.3 cm to 1.6 cm Thickness :

Copper = 0.2 mm Zinc = 0.4 mm

Table 2. Details of components used in proposed design

4.9  Merits:


  1. For the power generation, the basic raw material which is urine is available in huge quantities and the power used for electrolysis of urine is low with compare to electrolysis of water.
  2. The hydrogen obtained by this process is in its pure form. so, no further process is required.
  3. Hence, the urine can be used for power generation, the cost of sewage treatment can be de decreased.

7. Cost Analysis:

A team meeting was held at London community and the team made an estimation of how much it will cost to source a laboratory and buy equipment, raw materials, transportation and labour cost for our project. To implement this solution, firstly the team has to assess the lab facility and determine the ease of the lab to perform our project.

The estimated cost of purchase and implementation of the proposed project is described in detail below:





Operating voltage range=2.7V to 20V


Capacitor, C1



Capacitor, C2

C2=47 μF


Capacitor, C3

C3=4.7 μF


Capacitor, C4

C4= μF


Variable Resistor, R1



Variable Resistor, R2



Fixed Resistor, R3




V exposed =0.93V

V unexposed=1.79V


Transistor( BC547)




Red colour


Inductor, L

Resistance, R

Core type

Number of plates

Number of copper wire

Number of layers

L=104 μH

R=170 mΩ

Air core






Type: Alligator


Total number of connectors=174

Contact Resistance=110mΩ


Fabrication of PCB

To mount LTC3388-3


Cu-Zn Electrodes

Length= 7cm to 8cm

Width= 1.3cm to 1.6cm

Thickness copper= 0.2mm

Zinc= 0.4mm


Total Cost(CAD)


Table 3: Cost associated for one device

Fig. 7: cost of project in CAD

Therefore, the total cost to implement the proposed solution is around 67 CAD, which is negligible when compared to the benefits it provides for students and the public of Windsor.

8. Timeline:

After the approval of the project, the team has followed the particular timeline to implement the proposed solution. According to the team, it will take around 20 days for preliminary approval of the project. The team will assemble the experimental setup which will take around 5 days and the team will purchase and install the required equipment during the final stage which will take around a month.


Start date

Number of Days

Survey for selection of project

2nd August, 2018


Project preliminary approval

16th August, 2018


Problem identification and oriented survey

6th September, 2018


Cost estimation

16th September, 2018


Final solution

10th October, 2018



4th November, 2018


Table 4: Timeline of project

Overall, it will take around 4 to 5 months to complete the project.

9. Conclusion:

The work required in-depth knowledge of fabrication, modelling, testing and classification of in-expensive proposed energy harvesting system. The main priority has been given to the increasing the time-span of delivering harvested energy to load. This proposed system has been verified earlier. In addition this, it has been budget-friendly too.

10. Recommendations:

As indicated by our group’s examination and the outcomes accomplished by our group spurs us to suggest the establishment of pee-power. The Smart System is an exceptionally astute move to venture into brilliant vitality sparing procedure.  The power generated from UPB can be used for an industrial and non-industrial institute for working of low power instruments such as infrared sensors for alarms. This technology can be also used in the field of medical field such as blood glucose meter, digital thermometer and more. More into that, the atmospheric sensors such as humidity and temperature sensors which are commonly used in industry, can effectively work from the output power from the UPB.


[1] Sid Perkins, “The water in urine can be a source of hydrogen for electrical generators”, Science news for students, May 16, 2013. [Online]. Available:https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/pee-power [Accessed November 4, 2018]

[2] Jon Chouler, George A. Padgett, Petra J. Cameron, Kathrin Preuss, Maria-Magdalena Titirici, Ioannis Ieropoulos, Mirella Di Lorenzo, “Towards effective small scale microbial fuel cells for energy generation from urine,” Electrochimica Acta, 2016; 192: 89 DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2016.01.112[Accessed November 4, 2018]

[3] David Mcnally, “Army scientists discover power in urine”, Phys.org, September, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://phys.org/news/2017-09-army-scientists-power-urine.html [Accessed November 5, 2018].

[4]A. Singh, A. Kumar, T. K. Gill, and E. Sidhu, “Urine Powered Battery (UPB) for low power sensors”,2015 International Conference on Sustainable Energy Engineering and Application (ICSEEA), Oct. 2015. [Online]. Available:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301660577_Urine_Powered_Battery_UPB_for_low_power_sensors [Accessed November 4, 2018]

[5] Wahidul Hasan, Hafiz Ahmed, and Khosru M. Salim, “Generation of Electricity Using Cow Urine” ,International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 1465-1471,Dec. 2014[Online]. Available:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282317605_Generation_of_Electricity_Using_Cow_Urine [Accessed November 5, 2018]

[6] Royal Society of Chemistry, “Urine could be the answer to cheaper electricity“, Phys.org, November 1, 2011. [Online] Available: https://phys.org/news/2011-11-urine-cheaper-electricity.html [Accessed November 11, 2018]


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