If you’ve never imagined a future in which you will recharge your cellphone battery with urine, you’re probably not alone. But now, thanks to some pretty groundbreaking research conducted at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of West England, our collective futures could well contain such a possibility.
According to The Telegraph, researchers have created fuel cells that break down the sugars and other chemicals present in urine using bacteria to generate an electric current.
Thus far, the experimental batteries can generate enough current to make a single phone call and are about the size of a car battery. They hold around 50ml of urine, but engineer Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos has said that “the smallest [batteries] we have had working in the laboratory hold 1ml, so we can make them a lot smaller.”
He adds “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.”
That’s pretty neat. While researchers did not comment on how the urine ends up in the fuel cell, it’s not impossible that wee-powered chargers will be pocket-sized, and only require a quick visit to the bathroom to provide a burst of energy for your phone.
We just hope the refilling mechanism is sufficiently clever to avoid future chargers smelling like public bathrooms.