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Assam school children devise urine battery

india Updated: Feb 08, 2010 11:05 IST
Digambar Patowary
Digambar Patowary
Hindustan Times
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You can now beat load-shedding by… er… shedding some load.

Three Class VIII students have devised a urine battery that they claim would go a long way in countering power cuts in rural areas. They study in Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya at Tingrai in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district.

The 9 volt battery costs as little as Rs 2000 to make and can power three bulbs for four hours with 1 litre of urine. If the lights start dimming, all the battery needs is, more urine to energize the bulbs.

Partha Sonowal and Momin Khan and Shyam Murari began working on the concept last year. On December 25, they succeeded in making the battery functional.

Theirs was one of the most magnetic exhibits at school-level science show organized by the Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) at the Assam Engineering Institute here. The exhibition concluded on Sunday.

“Like all conventional batteries, we had ours charged initially with sulfuric acid. We drained it to fill it up with urine to ensure a steady supply of electricity,” the boys’ Guwahati-based mentor Kanak Gogoi told Hindustan Times. Gogoi is an innovator, and among his products include an air-driven car and electricity generating speed-breakers.

The ammonia content in urine helps run the battery, Gogoi added.

“On the surface, the battery isn’t much of a novelty,” said Partha, 13. “But it is a viable and inexpensive option in rural areas where people either cannot afford to frequently buy or do not have easy access to distilled water.”

If Partha and his friends want rural India not to waste urine, two girls from Hawajan Higher Secondary School at Kolabari in Sonitpur district have provided an alternative to politically-charged sugarcane – and pricy sugar – for those with a sweet tooth.

Class IX students Santana Borah and Bijaylaxmi Barua, both 14, have produced molasses from Musa balbiciana, a variety of indigenous banana locally called bhimkol. Their product has been sent to Regional Research Laboratory (RRL) at Jorhat in central Assam for further research.

“Our process is somewhat crude in scientific terms. We hope RRL will standardize a process to help poor villagers get a sweetener that’s much cheaper than sugar and molasses from sugarcane,” said Santana.

Molasses is a viscous byproduct of the process to make sugar from sugarcane or sugar beet.

“The quality of molasses produce from bhimkol depends on the maturity of the banana variety, the amount of molasses extracted and the method of extraction,” said Bijaylaxmi.

The duo’s technique involves soaking thin strips of the banana – the ratio is 1 kg banana in 1 liter water – and extracting the juice from the mixture. The juice is then boiled thrice for crystallization of molasses.

"We had organised this exhibition to bring out young scientific talents, particularly in small towns and semi-urban areas. We did not expect the children to be so innovative, some of their products worthy of being patented," said ASTEC director SN Choudhury.