Putting the P(ee) in electricity

Urine

New fuel cells can turn urine into electricity

Recent research published in Electrochimica Acta examined the possibility of utilizing urine as a bioenergy source to ultimately generate electricity. The question: Can urine be a viable source of electricity?

Researchers studied how slight changes to microbial fuel cells — devices that use natural processes of bacteria to transform organic matter into electricity — could lead to big impacts.

Scientists from the University of Bath, Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory tweaked microbial fuel cell design, and ended up increasing power output tenfold.

Developing countries could find this process useful

Urine-to-electricity could be a game-changer in global energy production, at least one researcher said.

“The world produces huge volumes of urine and if we can harness the potential power of that waste using microbial fuel cells, we could revolutionize the way we make electricity.” — Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, University of Bath.

The main obstacle at this point, according to the study, is cost. Microbial fuel cells can be relatively cheap to run, but can be expensive to manufacture. Discovering ways to lower the cost of producing these cells was a key component of the research.

Source → Elsevier