Urine mobile phone charger 'a world first'

16 July 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
Mobile version
Share |
Urine might become the ultimate source of green energy in the future

Urine might become the ultimate source of green energy in the future

Researchers from two British universities have managed to charge a Samsung phone using human urine, unlocking the potential for the ultimate recycling technology.

Using urine in a cascade of innovative microbial fuel cells, the team has managed to generate enough electricity to send text messages, browse the Internet and make brief phone calls. Now it wants to focus on developing a fully-fledged urine charger for conventional handheld mobile phones.

"We are very excited as this is a world first, no one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it's an exciting discovery," said Ioannis Ieropoulos from the University of West of England who has cooperated on the project with a team from the University of Bristol.

"Using the ultimate waste product as a source of power to produce electricity is about as 'eco' as it gets,” he said, emphasising that human urine is a type of resource humankind will always have at hand.

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

The microbial fuel cell developed by the team is an energy converter, which turns organic matter directly into electricity using the metabolism of urine-eating microorganisms. The more urine the microorganisms consume, the more energy they produce.

"The concept has been tested and it works; it's now for us to develop and refine the process so that we can develop microbial fuel cells to fully charge a battery," Ieropoulos said.

So far, the microbial fuel cells energy output has been so small the scientists had to use capacitors or super-capacitors to be able to store and accumulate it. However, Ieropoulos believes the technology has the future potential to be installed into domestic bathrooms to harness the urine and produce sufficient electricity to power showers, lighting or razors as well as mobile phones.

The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Gates Foundation and the Technology Strategy Board.

"We are currently bidding for funding to work alongside partners in the US and South Africa to develop a smart toilet," Ieropoulos concluded.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Digital Forensic Specialist (Audio)

    Met Police
    • London
    • Circa £37,305 plus £3,406 location allowance

    You’ll contribute to a wide range of research and development activities.

    • Recruiter: Met Police

    Apply for this job

  • MetOp-SG Receiver Project Manager

    Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
    • STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Oxfordshire
    • £37,213 - £50,926 (depending on experience)

    Project Manager to oversee the development, production and test of spaceflight components and integrated receiver systems

    • Recruiter: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Engineer

    Reaction Engines Ltd
    • Abingdon, Oxfordshire
    • Competitive + Benefits

    Perform general systems engineering tasks as necessary with specific focus on electronic systems and instrumentation.

    • Recruiter: Reaction Engines Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Production Manager

    Reaction Engines Ltd
    • Abingdon, Oxfordshire
    • Competitive + Benefits

    An amazing opportunity to plan, direct and coordinate all manufacturing operations and activities in line with company strategy and business plan.

    • Recruiter: Reaction Engines Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Navigation Sensors Principle Engineer

    MBDA
    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity? An exciting opportunity has arisen in a rapidly evolving international team with increasing capabilities.  The Navigation Sensors Group is responsible for the...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Technology Manager - External Communications

    BAE Systems
    • Frimley, England, Surrey
    • Negotiable

    Technology Manager - External Communications Would you like Lead the technical delivery of the External Communications System (ECS) capability sustainment & evolution projects within the common ECS (cECS) Baseline Design Management (BDM) programme? Th

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Graduate Process Engineer

    EFFECT Photonics
    • Brixham, Devon
    • £20,000 to £25,000

    Join our exciting journey to deliver new standards in the availability of data bandwidth.

    • Recruiter: EFFECT Photonics

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Principal Materials Engineer

    MBDA
    • Stevenage
    • Competitive salary & benefits

    What?s the opportunity? A fantastic opportunity has arisen for an experienced materials engineer/scientist specialising in non-metallic materials and processing. You will be given responsibility for...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate

    The University of Liverpool
    • Liverpool, Merseyside
    • £32,600 - £37,768 pa

    Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in a brand new area of communications.

    • Recruiter: The University of Liverpool

    Apply for this job

  • Test Engineering Opportunities

    HMGCC
    • Hanslope Park, Milton Keynes
    • Salary offered will depend on skills and experience

    Push incredible innovations beyond their limits. Opportunities for Software, Hardware, EMC, Test and Inspection Engineers!

    • Recruiter: HMGCC

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T