It is now possible to charge your mobile phone this way, but perhaps not in the way you imagine. Indeed, nothing disgusting there. Welcome to the world where urine can be a kind of energy fuel!
Here is a rather wacky advance, but which really seems to be paying off. In 2015, researchers from the University of Bristol (UK) experimented with lit toilets using human urine. From now on, it is a question of recharging your mobile phone by the same means, a feat to be put to the credit of the same team of scientists as attested by an official press release.
Here we will talk about “microbial fuel cells” and collected urine in order to transform it into electricity. Jonathan Winfield, deputy director of the Bristol Bioenergy Centre, explained the process to Euronews:
“We pour urine into the urinal. It’s not just organic waste, but fuel for a box of microbial fuel cells. »
This box, placed behind the wall where the urinal is located, seems to be the key element:
“Inside this box, we have chambers where bacteria are trapped. These will feed on the urine and produce electrons. These electrons, we collect them and transform them into electricity or energy to charge a phone,” continues the researcher.
The tested battery then recharges after a light turns green. About six centiliters of urine would be needed to recharge a smartphone battery for six hours (or three hours of communications). Concretely, these microbial fuel cells produce, precisely thanks to the bacteria present in the urine, hydrogen and carbon molecules. The latter are then generators of electrons.
The test phases concerning these productive toilets have proven to be conclusive, whether it concerns lighting or battery charging. The little extra: the process cleans the urine and could have a social dimension that would be welcome. According to Ioannis Ieropoulos, director of the establishment:
“These autonomous toilets can thus be installed in refugee camps, in slums and in all places where infrastructure is non-existent. »
The system is also inexpensive, an element that could push in the direction of its democratization. Indeed, a microbial fuel cell would be worth just over a euro! The project has already found a partner since the Bill Gates Foundation and the NGO Oxfam want to install toilets of this type in Africa in the near future.
Sources: Euronews – 20 Minutes