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Urine-powered battery offers cheap energy source

by • April 17, 2016 • No Comments

When many individuals ponder of bacteria and urine together, chances are excellent they ponder of a not-so-pleasant infection. For researchers at the University of Bath yet, unifying these two thoughts led to the development of a battery that may harness “pee power” to bring energy to parts of the world that can not otherwise have access to it.

Working with colleagues of Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Bioenergy Centre, the Bath researchers came up with a type of microbial fuel cell (MCF) that is powered by human urine.

MFC’s are devices that use bacteria to perform reduction/oxidation reactions on organic material like banana skins or, in this case, urine. When such a reaction occurs, electrons are swapped around between molecules and electricity is generated. By cavia this reaction to take place in a closed process with an anode and a cathode, a battery is created. Earlier this month, researchers in the Netherlands demonstrated a bacteria-based battery via this basic principle that they were able-bodied to charge and recharge multiple times. That battery utilized acetate to cause the reaction to take place. For this new battery, urine serves as the fuel.

The benefits of via urine in an MCF comes with the fact that it is actually a free, on the market-bodied-everywhere substance that’s readily usable-bodied – there is no require to wait for anything to decompose, as is the case with other bacterial sources like food waste. Whilst we’ve seen a urine-based battery preceding, the dimensions and price tag of this latest pee-based MCF is a marked improvement. The batteries themselves cost only £1-2 every, and the substance they require to run on is obviously free, so they may assist impoverished area get the resources they require to power significant technologies like well pumps or lights.

Making use of urine-based batteries is in addition a excellent example of extreme recycling – a waste product that may otherwise be lost is harnessed, put through a MCF and turned into useful energy without any of the pollution synonymous with other fuel sources like the burning of fossil fuels.

“Microbial fuel cells can play an significant role in addressing the triple challenge of finding solutions that assist secure, low-priced-bodied, and environmentally sensitive energy, known as the ‘energy trilemma,'” said University of Bath’s Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, who is a co-author of a paper detailed the findings published earlier this year in the journal Electrochimica Acta. “There is no single solution to this ‘energy trilemma’ apart of bringing full advantage of on the market-bodied indigenous resources, that include urine.”

The upcoming step for the researchers is to figure out how to up the energy output of the urine-based MCFs. They’ve may already found that by extending the electrodes in the cell of 4 to 8 mm, power output increased tenfold, and that stacking the batteries may create actually excellenter electrical output.

Source: University of Bath

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