Scientists have developed a novel way of charging mobile phones using urine as the power source to generate electricity.
Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos from the University of West England Bristol (pictured) is an expert at harnessing power from unusual sources using microbial fuel cells. By harnessing the power from urine as it passes through a cascade of microbial fuel cells (MFCs), Ieropoulos’ team has managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone. The microbial fuel power stack generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.
The Microbial Fuel Cell is an energy converter, which turns organic matter directly into electricity, via the metabolism of live microorganisms. 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.
The electricity output from MFCs is relatively small and so far the scientists have only been able to store and accumulate low levels of energy into capacitors or super-capacitors, for short charge/discharge cycles.
The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Gates Foundation and the Technology Strategy Board.
The scientists believe 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.
Last year, a group of young teenagers from Nigera made international news for developing a generator that is powered by urine.