Researchers at the Bristol Robotics Lab have discovered that urine can be used to power a microbial fuel cell (MFC). This kind of fuel cell uses bacterial cultures to break down 'food' to create power. In a press release Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulo, one of the researchers working on this project, explains:
"Urine is chemically very active, rich in nitrogen and has compounds such as urea, chloride, potassium and bilirubin, which make it very good for the microbial fuel cells. We have already done preliminary tests which show it being a waste material that is very effective. Although it is early days for this research, we hope to work towards producing a prototype portable urinal which would use urine to create power from fuel cells. We envisage that this could be used for example at music festivals and other outdoor events."
The next step for the team, he says, is making MFCs scalable so they can work as “stacks” – a series of cells connected electrically and by a system of continuous-flow liquid feed lines. The challenge is that each MFC should be isolated from each other yet still use the continuous flow system so as to increase efficiency.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia Commons; Via Discovery News.