We all have to charge our cell phones on a regular basis, and we all have to, er, relieve ourselves on a regular basis. Perhaps such was the inspiration behind the work of researchers at the The University of the West of England and University of Bristol who have created a means of charging a cell phone using urine. The technology is called “microbial fuel cells,” and a search for funding is underway.

In the project, the researchers used urine as a way to charge “a cascade” of microbial fuel cells, doing so sufficiently enough to charge an unspecified Samsung cell phone. Unlike using solar power and wind power, says the scientists, urine is not an erratic source and allows for the recycling of waste.

Said Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos, who worked on the project, “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. One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine.”

The charge was high enough to use the cell phone to send text messages, browse the web, and make a short voice call. The voice call used the most energy during the process, but the researchers plan to refine the technology to the point that the charge allows for longer calls and more intensive activities. Thus far, the work has been a proof-of-concept sort of deal.

Taking this a step further, the researchers envision a time when the technology could be used in bathrooms, where the urine is utilized in a way that will allow it to power the lights, showers, and other electricity-demanding activities. A smart toilet is also in the works, if funding comes through, that would recycle the urine.

SOURCE: University of West England