Scientists power mobile phone using urine

July 16, 2013
Mobile phones are displayed on May 20, 2013. British scientists on Tuesday reported they had harnessed the power of urine and were able to charge a mobile phone with enough electricity to send texts and surf the Internet.

British scientists on Tuesday reported they had harnessed the power of urine and were able to charge a mobile phone with enough electricity to send texts and surf the internet.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory in south west England said they had created a fuel cell that uses bacteria to break down urine to generate electricity, in a study published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

"No one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it's an exciting discovery," said engineer Ioannis Ieropoulos.

"The beauty of this is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually reusing waste to create energy.

"One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine," he added.

The team grew bacteria on and placed them inside ceramic cylinders.

The bacteria broke down chemicals in urine passed through the cylinders, building up a small amount of which was stored on a capacitor.

Ieropoulos hoped that the cell, which is currently the size of a car battery, could be developed for many applications.

"Our aim is to have something that can be carried around easily," he explained.

"So far the microbial fuel power stack (MFC) that we have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.

"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."

They hope the technology will eventually be used to power domestic devices.

Explore further: Urine could be the answer to cheaper electricity

Related Stories

Battery low? Give your mobile some water

April 18, 2013

A power source for your mobile phone can now be as close as the nearest tap, stream, or even a puddle, with the world's first water-activated charging device.

'Scent device' could help detect bladder cancer

July 8, 2013

Researchers from the University of Liverpool and University of the West of England, (UWE Bristol), have built a device that can read odours in urine to help diagnose patients with early signs of bladder cancer.

New harvesting approach boosts energy output from bacteria

April 25, 2012

A team of scientists from University of Colorado Denver has developed a novel energy system that increases the amount of energy harvested from microbial fuel cells (MFCs) by more than 70 times. The new approach also greatly ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

February 20, 2018

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a submarine?

February 15, 2018

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of traveling both through the air and under the water – transitioning repeatedly between sky and sea. ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 16, 2013
I think the big question is how this relates to other supplies like solar power. I bet it is cheaper and easier to make the same electricity by solar cell than using this chemical means.
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 16, 2013
The urine is there anyway, so why not get something from it? The question is not so much whether it is the most efficient way of generating electricity, but whether or not there are better uses for the urine that conflict with this use.
1.6 / 5 (5) Jul 16, 2013
Now the only hurdle is to make the urinal cake small enough.
1 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2013
Now the only hurdle is to make the urinal cake small enough.

Micro UC cards?
not rated yet Jul 17, 2013
Pecunia non olet....

If there's a way to mass-produce a charger that could be used by hikers and survivalists, and/or to get a charge out of a human byproduct that in modern times just gets flushed, then more power to them... pun intended ;)
not rated yet Jul 17, 2013
Chemical, huh? I had envisioned a waterwheel built into a codpiece.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 20, 2013
Not worth a piss.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2013
Not stated was how long it takes to generate electricity. Is the intent some sort of emergency supply? Individual? Single use? Or larger, longer duration? How much maintenance is required?

Did diuretics (like beer) play a part in any of this research?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.