Ann T W Yu
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Ann T W Yu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Building and Real Estate of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Value Management and more than 15 years of experience in the field of Construction and Demolition Waste. She teaches in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, conducting research projects and carrying out consultancy services. She was the Honorary Secretary of the Hong Kong Institute of Value Management for seven years. She is a Chartered Builder, Assistant Architect, Quantity Surveyor and Project Manager by profession. Her research interest includes C&D waste management, construction project management, value management, building procurement systems and sustainable construction. She has a strong track record and has published extensively on the broad theme of project management in leading construction management journals and international internal conference proceedings.
This research study explores the potential for producing electricity from discharged urine in the daily operation of male toilets in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. The majority of the population in metropolitan cities lives in these high-rise buildings apart from residential buildings. High-rise buildings consume large amounts of energy in daily operation and release considerable amounts of waste including human urine into the environment. In addition, untreated urine from urinal of these buildings contains polluting organic compounds and requires energy-consuming treatment prior to discharge into waterways. Urea is a major composition of urine. Urea contains four hydrogen atoms which are less tightly bonded than H2O in water. Hydrogen, which is a clean source of energy, is considered by scientists as a promising fuel for future. Hydrogen and urea are produced in electrolysis of urine as shown in figures 1 and 2. Operation of hydrogen fuel cells are produced in electrolysis of urine. The generated hydrogen gas can be utilized to generate electricity for building operations. Ohio University in the USA has developed Ammonia Green Box® which can extract hydrogen gas directly from urine by electrochemical oxidation using an economical catalyst. Electricity is produced from the electrolysis of hydrogen gas in a hydrogen fuel cell. The simple and convenient hydrogen extraction process is suitable to be applied in high-rise developments. Production of electricity from urine can reduce power supply from the grid system and subsequently reduce building management cost.