Smartphone batteries keep getting stronger, but new devices also require more power for high-definition displays and faster processors. The result is that people still have problems keeping their mobile devices charged throughout the day. Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, a researcher at the University of the West of England, has created a way to recharge batteries without relying on electrical outlets.
If you want to take advantage of the technology, though, you’ll have to get accustomed to using microbial fuel cells that draw power from urine. You read that right. Urine.
Turning Urine Into Electricity
Ieropoulos’ invention is a first, but he based the concept on existing science. The prototype has fuel cells that contain microorganisms similar to those found in the soil and the human gut. When the microorganisms come into contact with urine, they start to break down the liquid. The process creates electrons that are then channeled into usable electricity.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time that Ieropoulos and his team at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre have created electricity from human pee. A nearby university bar contains an earlier invention that converts urine into electricity.
Recent tests show that it takes about six hours of charge time to give an average smartphone three hours of talk time.
A Cheap, Renewable Form of Energy
While urine-powered fuel cells might sound icky, they offer a cheap way to generate electricity from a renewable resource. The fuel cells developed by Professor Ieropoulos only cost about $2.65 to build. As long as a smartphone owner can produce 600ml (about 20 fluid ounces) of urine, he or she can keep the device powered without plugging into the electrical grid. The technology offers an affordable, eco-friendly option for consumers. Perhaps even more importantly, though, it could allow people living in remote areas to power their devices and stay connected to the internet without help from power stations.
Generating electricity from urine may seem a little gross, but scientists need to find ways to turn waste into energy. The world will eventually run out of fossil fuels. When that happens, people will need an array or renewable energy sources to power everything from mobile devices to apartment complexes. In addition to solar panels and wind turbines, urine may play a role in powering the future.
HTC EVO 4G Battery by Tony Webster is licensed under Attribution License