While others are busy creating batteries out of leaves or rotten apples, researchers at the University of Bath are hard at work transforming the most ubiquitous and wasted fluid out there into fuel: urine. The latest advances in such technology could mean cheap and sustainable batteries for the parts of the world that need them most.
Microbial fuel cells (MCFs) are not new to the science scene, yet the Bath researchers, teamed up with Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Bioenergy Centre, discovered urine is a more superior material for the technology than decaying plant matter. Bacteria inside the cells achieve reduction and oxidation reactions, producing electricity that can be harnessed in battery form. And choosing urine as the fuel means a quicker process, as opposed to waiting for plant matter to rot.
Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, who co-authored the study about urine as a fuel source, said, “Microbial fuel cells can play an important role in addressing the triple challenge of finding solutions that support secure, affordable, and environmentally sensitive energy, known as the ‘energy trilemma.’” Indeed, urine powered batteries are examples of recycling at its finest. Fuel is literally being flushed down the drain, yet the team’s continued research strives to find ways to make the batteries more potent, long-lasting, and perhaps even rechargeable.