Wee-charge your mobile phone

What would you do if your mobile phone ran out of battery, you had no charger and all you needed to do was send a message to a friend? Well, […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

What would you do if your mobile phone ran out of battery, you had no charger and all you needed to do was send a message to a friend?

Well, UK scientists have developed a way of charging mobile phones using the “ultimate waste product”, i.e. human urine.

Researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaboration between the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol have found a way of using urine as a power source to generate electricity and charge a phone.

They used an energy converter called microbial fuel cells, which turn organic matter directly into electricity. So far the researchers have been able to generate enough power to send text messages, browse the web and make a brief phone call. The scientists now plan to develop the technology to be able to fully charge the handheld device.

Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos (pictured) said using urine for energy generation “is about as eco as it gets”.

He added: “One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine. By harnessing this power as urine passes through a cascade of microbial fuel cells (MFCs), we have managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone. 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 re-using waste to create energy.”

The scientists believe the technology has the future potential to be installed in domestic bathrooms to harness the urine and produce enough electricity to power showers, lighting or razors as well as fully charge mobile phones.

The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Gates Foundation and the Technology Strategy Board.