In a first for the intersection of mobile phones and bodily fluids, researchers have managed to charge a standard cell phone using a microbial fuel cell (MFC) fed with urine.
The scientists, from the University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, built a membrane-less fuel cell demonstrating the viability of a urine-based mobile power source. They were able to generate enough of a charge from their MFC to use the mobile phone for texting, calling, and connecting to the internet.
“This is the world’s first demonstration that mobile phone batteries can be directly charged previously considered impossible by a stack of MFCs feeding on urine. Compared to other commonplace organic feedstocks, urine is shown to be a superior fuel for direct electricity generation. This now opens up numerous possibilities for waste utilisation in remote locations and accessible levels of useful energy.” – Waste to Real Energy: the first MFC powered mobile phone
This development could have huge impact on remote locations if the technology can be commercialized and remain affordable, because as one of the authors stated, we’ve got plenty of urine.
“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.” – Ioannis Ieropoulos
Right now, the stacks of MFCs used for the study were the size of a car battery, so there’s a fair way to go before it gets to consumers, but the results are promising.
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