We’ve heard a lot about poo-power here at Inhabitat, and we’re all about it as a totally renewable source of energy. That’s why we were stoked to learn about the Bristol Robotics Lab’s (BRL) current research into using urine for energy. They’re looking into Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) – bio-electrochemical systems that create energy through breaking down bacteria – and believe they are on the path to creating urine powered robots that run on MFCs as well as urinals that have the potential to create energy.
Bristol Robotics Lab has been researching the use of MFCs and has already developed robots that run on the fuel they create. MFCs take chemical energy and turn it into electrical energy via a catalytic reaction. BRL has been able to use waste — rotten fruit, grass clippings, seafood shells — to feed the MFCs and has successfully used the energy produced to power robots. They are also trying to advance the use of MFCs by “stacking” them (placing them in a denser environment) and allowing them to run simultaneously off of one food source in order to optimize the energy produced.
The researchers believe that by switching out the food sources they’ve been using after successfully “stacking” the MFCs they will be able to produce energy-creating circuits that could generate large amounts of power from urine. While this technology could be used to power a lot of things, they happen to specialize in robots so they’re hoping they’ll have some urine-energized bunnies soon. One of their goals is to be able to produce a urinal that turns the waste that people put into it into energy. This technology could be used in the porta-johns that are ever present at outdoor music festivals. Imagine if all the waste from an outdoor concert was powering the amplifiers on stage — now that’s some rocking pee-power.
Via Science Daily