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Urine Microbial Fuel Cell Tests Successful, Pure Pee-Power Probably Possible

A recently published research paper documents what is thought to be a world first, pure, unadulterated urine being used as a fuel for microbial fuel cells. In other words: Pure pee-power. The breakthrough here isn’t the use of mircobial fuel cells (MFCs), but rather the use of undistilled urine as a power sources. MFCs have been used to create electricity in the past, but from fuels like bacteria, sugars, dirt, and various chemical compontents. Pure urine is a bit more, um, easy to come by.

The researchers involved, Ioannis Ieropoulos, John Greenman and Chris Melhuish, seem to be excited by the possibilities despite the fact that the MFCs didn’t produce a huge amount of power. They didn’t produce a negligible amount either though, and the three proudly tout their success in generating a process that has the potential to create power in a quantity that is “usable.”

These particular MFCs work by effectively eating the urine and exhaling electrons. When they “breathe” (anaerobically, without oxygen) they cast off electrons. Set up to capture those properly and you have usable electricity. All you have to do to keep the process going is to continue feeding those MFCs.

The next step is to try and figure out the logistics of organizing these MFCs so that they are efficient enough in any given situation to give off a good amount of power. Of course, the plus side to all this is that the fuel is just there. I mean, whether or not a given MFC setup is operating optimally, it’s not like anyone is “wasting” any fuel on them. They only way fuel is being wasted is if we don’t start using these guys as soon as we can. No one can should have all that power, hopefully we can start spreading the love around soon.

(via BBC)

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