Direct urea fuel cells: Challenges and opportunities

Enas Taha Sayed, Tasnim Eisa, Hend Omar Mohamed, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem*, Anis Allagui, Hussain Alawadhi, Kyu Jung Chae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

220 Scopus citations


Direct urea fuel cell (DUFC) is an attractive and inexpensive method for the simultaneous wastewater treatment (urine and urea-contaminated water) and electricity generation. Many efforts have been made to increase the catalytic activity of Ni-based DUFC anodic catalyst toward urea oxidation, which is considered to be the best non-precious catalyst in alkaline media so far. Alloying Ni with other metals and/or non-metals, and increasing its surface area demonstrated a power of up to 26.9 mW cm−2 at room temperature, which is comparable to that obtained in direct alcoholic fuel cells using high loading of precious catalyst. However, this is still viewed as low-performance. This review presents a comprehensive picture of the mechanism of urea oxidation on Ni-based catalysts, the poisoning effect of catalysts and its possible remedies, as well as the different approaches in preparing highly active catalysts. We also analyze the performance and associated issues of DUFC using newly applied strategies to increase its open-circuit voltage and power output via alternative oxidants and re-designed chemical conditions in the cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-175
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Mar 31 2019


  • Catalyst poisoning
  • Catalyst reactivation
  • Dual pH conditions
  • In-situ measurements
  • New oxidants
  • Urea electrocatalysts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct urea fuel cells: Challenges and opportunities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this