Microbial Fuel Cell (MFCs) technology is far from new, but it isn't exactly flooding the market and replacing batteries either. One of the problems comes from finding a reliable and convenient method for refilling the cells. New research currently being carried out by scientists from the University of the West of England suggests that urine may be a viable fuel source for powering Microbial Fuel Cells.
Because MFCs contain a similar bacteria that is found in soil, waste water and the human gut, researchers are able to manipulate the bacteria to feed on urine. According to the researchers, urine is chemically rich in substances that are favorable to the bacteria in MFCs. Although the conducted tests only produced small amounts of energy, the scientists claim further research will be able to yield "useful" levels of power.
One of the researchers behind the project, Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos, explained, "Through this study... we were able to show that by miniaturisation and multiplication of the number of MFCs into a stack and regulating the flow of urine, it may be possible to look at scales of use that have the potential to produce useful levels of power, for example in a domestic or small village setting."
Although we aren't expecting to see any toilet powered homes or villages any time soon, the technology is definitely promising. Seeing as how humans produce 6.4 trillion liters of urine every year, further research into the subject could become very useful in finding a use for all of that waste.