Your mobile phones might soon be powered by urine – through electricity generated by pee-powered microbial fuel. When the urine passes through the fuel cell, the microbes inside it generate electricity, and this power can be stored or used directly.
The pee-powered fuel cell uses a carbon catalyst at the cathode which is derived from glucose and ovalbumin, a protein found in egg white.
Here is a video that actually shows a mobile phone being powered by urine:
This miniature fuel cell getting its power from urine will cost as little as £1.
The technology has been developed by researchers at the University of Bath, Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Bioenergy Centre. The device that is called a “microbial fuel cell” has the potential of turning into an ultimate pee-powered renewable energy source because after all, there is a rare possibility that the humankind will run out of urine.
The best thing about this device is that it is less than an inch square in size and a single device can produce enough energy to power your mobile phone.
The researchers say that the microbial fuel cell powered by urine is more powerful and comparatively cheaper than similar devices. It is a highly efficient power generating mechanism. By increasing the cell’s electrodes from 4 mm to 8 mm the power output of the device can be increased 10 times.
Right now a single microbial fuel cell can generate 2 W per cubic metre using urine and this much of power is enough to keep your mobile phone running.
Further optimisations are expected to be incorporated in near future so that the performance of the microbial fuel cells can be enhanced further.
A great thing about this device is that it doesn’t require a complicated setup and people can generate urine-based power in the remote areas by simply peeing into a container and then hooking that container into the power generating set up. One of the researchers rightly says that this technology can totally transform the lives of poor people who cannot afford expensive fuel for their energy needs.
What if urine can also power your automobiles? Just imagine, when your car needs to be re-fueled, just park it at a convenient place that affords privacy, open the lid, insert you-know-what, and within a minute you are ready to hit the road again. That’s a future possibility but right now, even if you can power your mobile phones with your urine, this is a serious progress.