The next generation of renewable fuel is within us all

The power was inside you all along

Have you ever wished you could make things go when you had to go? Well, you're in luck*, as researchers from the University of Bath have developed a fuel cell that converts your pee into usable electricity.

The process involves 'electric' microbes that can process the organic matter found in urine into usable power, which can then be stored in the fuel cell for later use.

Pee-power itself isn't exactly new, with firms like Bristol Robotics Laboratory playing around with a similar concept in 2013. What separates this new fuel cell from the pack is its focus on how it impacts the environment – or rather doesn't.

According to its public release, researchers from the university claim the urea-charged cells are an "affordable, renewable, and carbon-neutral way of generating power", emitting virtually no waste – other than what it takes in, of course – and costing no more than an estimated £2 (approximately $3) to produce.

That said, the power generated by the current model clocks in at about 2 Watts per cubic meter – enough to charge your phone, but not quite up to the outputs of long-standing alternative energy sources like solar energy, wind, or hydrogen.

Despite that, researchers behind the project aren't taking the you-know-what, working to improve the cells so that they can provide cheap, easy-to-implement energy to developing nations without damaging the environment.

"[Creating] technology that can potentially transform the lives of poor people who don't have access to, or cannot afford, electricity is an exciting prospect," said Jon Chouler, PhD student at the university's Center for Sustainable Chemical Technologies. "I hope this will enable those in need to enjoy a better quality of life as a result of our research."

(*pun avoided for sake of audience -Ed.)

[Top Image Credit: Tim Gander]