A team of researchers from the University of the West of England, UK, have developed the new, small microbial fuel cell (MFC) which can turn organic matter — in this particular case, that happens to be your pee — into electricity.
To do that, the fuel cells are filled with special bacteria which chow down on the chemicals in the urine to fuel their own metabolic processes — in turn producing electrons, which are stored by the cell and used to provide power. Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos explained to 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.”
Amazingly, the cell can create enough power to charge a smartphone — at least a little. One, um, “session” of charging provides enough power for a phone call. But hey, that’s a great start, and over time the hope is to shrink the cells down and produce them for less than $US1 — which should make them ideal for use in developing countries. And, you know, people who pee a lot. [The Independent]