Striking Gold In California: Inventors Unveil Urine Battery

PASADENA, Calif. - Three men who said they invented an electric battery that runs on urine are seeking investors with $5 million. At least one doubting scientist said he wouldn't give 5 cents for the thing.

And other scientists said they were highly skeptical of the inventors' claims, in particular without knowing what other materials were used and the chemical reactions purported to produce the power.

That's a secret, said the inventors, Nelson Camus, Edgar Aguayo and Ismael Valle, partners in a company they named Nel Nithium Electronics and run out of a home in a Los Angeles suburb.

But "without more information, it would be impossible to determine if there is anything here or not," said Robert Osteryoung, an electrochemist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. He's the one who wouldn't part with a nickel for the device.

Camus, a 45-year-old electronics engineer from Chile, discovered the compound that makes the battery work, Aguayo said. They call it Nelson's lithium - or nithium for short.

They need investors to refine the device, which they say could run anything from a watch to a home power plant. In the meantime, a prototype will be displayed at the Invention Convention showcase running through Labor Day at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Chemist Gary Henriksen, in charge of advanced battery development at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, called the idea "off-the-wall."

Said the promoters: "Everybody stops laughing when they see our demonstration."