Pee power! In a world first, UK scientists claim to have developed a novel method to charge mobile phones - using human urine.
working at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have described the
"breakthrough" finding of charging cell phones using urine as the power
source to generate electricity.
"We are very excited as this is a
world first, no-one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it's an
exciting discovery. Using the ultimate waste product as a source of
power to produce electricity is about as eco as it gets," Dr Ioannis
Ieropoulos from University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, an
expert at harnessing power from unusual sources using microbial fuel
"One product that we can be sure of an unending
supply is our own urine. By harnessing this power as urine passes
through a cascade of microbial fuel cells (MFCs), we have managed to
charge a mobile phone. 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
re-using waste to create energy," said Ieropoulos.
He said so far
the microbial fuel power stack that scientists have developed generates
enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief
"Making a call on a mobile phone takes up the most
energy but we will get to the place where we can charge a battery for
longer periods. 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," he said.
The Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) is
an energy converter, which turns organic matter directly into
electricity, via the metabolism of live microorganisms, researchers
Essentially, the electricity is a by-product of the
microbes' natural life cycle, so the more they eat things like urine,
the more energy they generate and for longer periods of time; so it's
beneficial to keep doing it, they said.
The electricity output
from MFCs is relatively small and so far we have only been able to store
and accumulate these low levels of energy into capacitors or
super-capacitors, for short charge/discharge cycles.
This is the
first time we have been able to directly charge the battery of a device
such as a mobile phone and it is indeed a breakthrough, researchers
Scientists believe that the technology has the future
potential to be installed into domestic bathrooms to harness the urine
and produce sufficient electricity to power showers, lighting or razors
as well as mobile phones.
The study was reported in the Royal Society of, 'Chemistry Journal of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics'.