Ioannis Ieropoulos and his team at Bristol Robotics Laboratory are studying how to produce electricity from urine, The Economist reports.
Live organisms in microbial fuel cells feed off of urine, according to the magazine:
When urine flows through an MFC the microbes consume it as part of their normal metabolic process. This, in turn, frees electrons. Electrodes within the cell gather these electrons and when they are connected to an external circuit a current is generated.
Funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to research next generation sanitation, the researchers are looking at the process to also treat wastewater and produce fertilizer.
“It’s quite fascinating,” Ieropoulos said. “We are developing something that is for the better of humankind.”
The Economist magazine is owned by The Economist Group, which also owns CQ Roll Call.