The BioEnergy Team, led by Ioannis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in Britain, are hoping to profit from working with [um, urine].
They have developed a new technique to turn urine into electrical power—or “urine-tricity” as they call it. People around the world produce an estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine every year.
BRL, a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, want to make the most of this abundant resource. At the core of urine-tricity are microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which contain live microbes. When urine flows through an MFC the microbes consume it as part of their normal metabolic process. This, in turn, frees electrons. Electrodes within the cell gather these electrons and when they are connected to an external circuit a current is generated.