Researchers at the University of Bath have developed an innovative miniature fuel cell that can generate electricity from urine, creating an affordable, renewable and carbon-neutral way of generating power.
In the near future this device could provide a means of generating much needed electricity to remote areas at very little cost, each device costs just £1-£2. With growing global pressures to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions, microbial fuel cells could be an exciting alternative.
A microbial fuel cell is a device that uses natural biological processes of ‘electric’ bacteria to turn organic matter, such as urine, into electricity. These fuel cells are efficient and relatively cheap to run, and produce nearly zero waste compared to other methods of electricity generation.
In practice, urine will pass through the microbial fuel cell for the reaction to happen. From here, electricity is generated by the bacteria which can then be stored or used to directly power electrical devices.
The research team from the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry and the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT), have worked with Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Bioenergy Centre, to devise this new kind of microbial fuel cell that is smaller, more powerful and cheaper than other similar devices.
This novel fuel cell developed by the researchers, measures one inch squared in size and uses a carbon catalyst at the cathode which is derived from glucose and ovalbumin, a protein found in egg white. This biomass-derived catalyst is a renewable and much cheaper alternative to platinum, commonly used in other microbial fuel cells.
The researchers worked on the cell’s design to maximize the power that could be generated. By increasing the cell’s electrodes from 4mm to 8mm, the power output was increased tenfold. Furthermore, by stacking multiple units together, the power was proportionally increased.
Currently, a single microbial fuel cell can generate 2 Watts per cubic metre, enough to power a device such as a mobile phone. Whilst this value is not comparable with other alternative technologies such as hydrogen or solar fuel cells and other methods of bioenergy digesters, the significant advantage of this technology is its extremely cheap production cost and its use of waste as a fuel, a fuel that will never run out and does not produce harmful gasses.
The research team is now looking at ways of improving the power output of the microbial fuel cell and is confident that by optimising the design of the cell, they will be able to increase the cell’s performance.
Lecturer in the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering and corresponding author, Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, said: “If we can harness the potential power of this human waste, we could revolutionise how electricity is generated.
“Microbial fuel cells can play an important role in addressing the triple challenge of finding solutions that support secure, affordable, and environmentally sensitive energy, known as the ‘energy trilemma’.
“There is no single solution to this ‘energy trilemma’ apart from taking full advantage of available indigenous resources, which include urine.”
Lead author and CSCT PhD student, Jon Chouler said: “Microbial fuel cells could be a great source of energy in developing countries, particularly in impoverished and rural areas.
“To have created technology that can potentially transform the lives of poor people who don’t have access to, or cannot afford electricity, is an exciting prospect. I hope this will enable those in need to enjoy a better quality of life as a result of our research.”
The Latest on: Urine fuel cell
via Google News
The Latest on: Urine fuel cell
- Removal of Hepatitis B virus surface HBsAg and core HBcAg antigens using microbial fuel cells producing electricity from human urineon August 13, 2019 at 2:23 am
Microbial electrochemical technology is emerging as an alternative way of treating waste and converting this directly to electricity. Intensive research on these systems is ongoing but it currently ...
- Automated Cell Counters Market to Reach a 6.2% of CAGR by 2029 - PMRon August 6, 2019 at 4:11 am
Furthermore, the growth of the healthcare sector in emerging nations is estimated to fuel the growth of the ... the automated cell counter market is further classified into blood analysis, urine ...
- Streaming media: New fuel cell powers a mobile phone with peeon July 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm
“By harnessing this power as urine passes through a cascade of microbial fuel cells, we have managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone. The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the ...
- Japanese professor creates LED fuelled by urine dropson July 17, 2019 at 12:38 am
OSAKA - A fuel cell that can power an LED for several hours with just a small amount of urine has been developed by a university professor in Osaka, it has been learned. Created by Keiichi Kaneto, a ...
- Urinal prototype uses fuel cells to generate steady stream of electricityon March 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Researchers working at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have built a urinal that converts urine directly into electricity. Not only is this prototype an ingenious way of providing ...
- Add Just a Bit of Water To Tiny Canisters And Power Fuel Cells on the Goon February 28, 2019 at 4:00 pm
... of it as fuel for a fuel cell; just add water. This kind of technology isn't entirely novel. We've written about magnesium-based power packs designed for the military that can generate power from ...
- MKU researchers device low-cost method to produce electricity from urineon February 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm
Currently, this research group is further working on the construction of the developed direct fuel cells in real toilet premises, to meet the power and water demands on its own by utilising human ...
- Will combat vehicles use urine for fuel?on October 19, 2017 at 6:58 am
While urine could be used to power devices and greatly lighten the load for soldiers, fuel cells could also be used on a much, much larger scale like powering vehicles and theoretically even entire ...
- New nano-powder to produce hydrogen fuel from urineon September 13, 2017 at 12:58 am
Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed an aluminium nano-powder that turns urine into hydrogen instantly, which can power fuel cells and provide clean energy. Scientists, including ...
- Study Finds Tech Can Generate Electricity From Urine and Kill Salmonellaon June 19, 2017 at 1:42 am
Scientists have understood that microbial fuel cells (MFC) can generate electricity from urine and other forms of waste for a while now. But new research shows that the process can also kill bacteria ...
via Bing News