Yes, it is true! A team of researchers from University of Bath, Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have developed a revolutionary new way to produce bioenergy from urine. This new technology is a smaller, cheaper and more powerful microbial fuel cell which the journal Electrochimica Acta describes as a new miniature microbial fuel cell which does not use expensive materials for the cathode and which is made of carbon cloth and titanium wire reports Life Hacker.
Given the fact that urine is produced by 7 billion people on earth, the new fuel cells provide the potential to create great amounts of electricity especially in the developing and under-developed countries of the world who lack funds for and access even to even traditional power sources. Mirella Di Lorenzo, corresponding author from University of Bath said,
Microbial fuel cells have real potential to produce renewable bioenergy out of waste matter like urine. The world produces huge volumes of urine and if we can harness the potential power of that waste using microbial fuel cells, we could revolutionise the way we make electricity.”
The researchers use glucose and ovalbumin, a protein found in egg white as a catalyst in the fuel cells to produce more power by speeding up the reaction. They also doubled the length of the electrodes, from 4 mm to 8 mm, thus increasing the power output tenfold.
Jon Chouler, lead author of the research described his team’s design as cheaper and more powerful than traditional models. He added,
Devices like this that can produce electricity from urine could make a real difference by producing sustainable energy from waste. Microbial fuel cells could be a great source of energy in developing countries, particularly in impoverished and rural areas.”