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Bristol boffins develop wee idea for charging mobile phones

Users of mobile gadgets could soon be charging them with their own urine, reports the BBC.

Scientists at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol, say mobile phones and a host of other devices could be powered by urine.

Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, told the BBC that harnessing power from "the ultimate waste product" was "a world first".

Ieropoulos said, "One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine. By harnessing this power as urine passes through a cascade of microbial fuel cells (MFCs), we have managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone."

An MFC is an energy converter which turns organic matter directly into electricity through the metabolism of live micro-organisms within that matter.

The scientists believe the technology could be installed in bathrooms to harness urine and produce enough electricity to power showers, lighting, shavers, and mobile phones, which is handy seeing most people take them into the bathroom with them.

Ieropoulos told the BBC, "The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun, we are actually re-using waste to create energy.

"So far the microbial fuel power stack that we have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call."

Ieropoulos said, "Making a call on a mobile phone takes up the most energy, but we will get to the place where we can charge a battery for longer periods."

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory now wants to develop and refine the process so that it can develop MFCs to fully charge a battery to enable longer and more extensive mobile working.

The Laboratory says it is now bidding for funding to work alongside partners in the US and South Africa to develop a "smart toilet".