People pee a lot, and four African teenage girls have actually figured out a way to make pee useful. That’s right — even your pee. Doesn’t that make you want to rush out and drink a whole lot of beer right now and see how much electricity you can make? Oh, except we are pretty sure these girls were not drinking beer when they made this gadget, which was was presented this week in Lagos, Nigeria, at the fourth annual Maker Faire Africa, because it’s kind of complicated. And they are too young.

According to The Next Web’s Emil Protalinski, the urine-powered generator — which can turn one liter of urine into six hours of electricity — works like this.

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.

So next time you pee and are about to flush it away to the pee’s happy hunting grounds, think about how these girls are so young and smart and innovative. And ask yourself, would you like a lower electric bill? Would you be willing to pee to get it? More importantly, do you want to be a person who, metaphorically, just pees and flushes, or do you want to be a hero?

Update: NBC’s John Roach suggests that, although this pee generator is indeed a neat thing, expectations should be managed.