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British Researchers Developing Urine-Powered Electronic Devices

(Dr. Ionnis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.  Image from provided video)

(Dr. Ionnis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. Image from provided video)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Keeping your cell phone charged might one day be as easy as answering nature’s call.

Call it pee power…

“Urine is exceptionally good as a fuel for those micro-organisms,” says Ionnis Ieropoulos, an engineer at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, in England, whose team has developed a microbial fuel cell.

“It takes the waste that we naturally produce and it converts it directly into electricty,” Ieropolous explains.

The fuel cell contains live micro-organisms, “live bugs — the same bugs we’d find in sediment, in soil, even in our gut for digestion.”

In a web video posted by the University of the West of England, Ieropoulos explains that as those bugs digest the urine, they create an electrical charge.

“We’ve got to the point where we can now power up a mobile phone — a normal mobile phone,” he says.

Watch the Video

The challenge now is to make it smaller (though you probably don’t want this to be a portable thing).  The idea is to install it in bathrooms — especially in developing countries, where it would be an inexpensive way to juice up.

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