Charging your phone could be as easy as taking a leak! UK scientists claim to have developed a new technique to charge mobile phones, using human urine.
Scientists working at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have found a way to harness electricity from urine to a mobile devices.
"We are very excited as this is a world first, no-one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it's an exciting discovery. Using the ultimate waste product as a source of power to produce electricity is about as eco as it gets," said Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos from University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, an expert at harnessing power from unusual sources using microbial fuel cells.
"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 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," he added
According to Dr Ioannis, the microbial fuel power stack that scientists have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.
"Making a call on a mobile phone takes up the most energy but we will get to the place where we can charge a battery for longer periods. The concept has been tested and it works - it's now for us to develop and refine the process so that we can develop MFCs to fully charge a battery," he said.
The Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) is an energy converter, which turns organic matter directly into electricity, with the help of metabolism of live microorganisms, researchers claim. Electricity is produced as a by-product of the microbes' natural life cycle. Meaning, when they consume nutrition sources like urine , they generate energy.
The electricity output from MFCs is relatively small and so far we have only been able to store and accumulate these low levels of energy into capacitors or super-capacitors, for short charge/discharge cycles. This is the first time we have been able to directly charge the battery of a device such as a mobile phone and it is indeed a breakthrough, said the researchers.
Scientists believe that the technology has the future potential to be installed into domestic bathrooms to harness the urine and produce sufficient electricity to power showers, lighting or razors as well as mobile phones.
The study was reported in the Royal Society of, 'Chemistry Journal of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics'.