The Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaboration of the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol, has invented a new microbial fuel cell that turns urine into electricity.
The microbial fuel cell contains specially-grown bacteria that break down the elements of urine and produce electrons, which create an electrical charge that is stored in the fuel cell.
The microbial fuel cell is then used to charge a cell phone (video below).
“No one has harnessed power from urine to do this, so it's an exciting discovery,” Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos, an engineer at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, told the The Independent.
“The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun. We are actually reusing waste to create energy. One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine.”
To test the unusual power source, researchers used a Samsung phone charger powered by the microbial fuel cell and were able to charge up a cell phone, but only for one call.
“The concept has been tested and it works, it's now for us to develop and refine the process so that we can develop MFCs to fully charge a battery,” said Dr. Ieropoulos.
Researchers hope that microbial fuel cells could someday power electric razors, toothbrushes and lights in bathrooms.
Source: The Independent