An eye-opening experiment has revealed how urine could be used to generate enough power to charge your phone, which would solve the annoying problem of your phone dying on you on a night out.
Documentary The Secret Science of Sewage looked into how sewage is processed as well as the possible benefits of human waste to science and technology.
Dr George McGavin visited Bristol Robotics Laboratory that was testing a new form of biotechnology.
He found out that the minerals in wee, such as magnesium and potassium, are fed on by microbes giving off energy that can be used.
Viewers saw Dr McGavin collect his urine into a bottle before pouring it into a urinal that was connected to a circuit board that he plugged his phone into.
Surprisingly his phone switched back on and began to charge. Wonder how much wee you would need for a full battery?
He had a chat with Professor Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos who explained that they used porous microbial fuel cells to generate power. Urine permeates through the cell, and the elements are consumed by the microbes, generating electrons that are picked up by the wire coils in the cell.
The microbes are taken from the natural environment, and they collect samples from sediments found in ponds, lakes or rivers.
‘Urine contains carbon, potassium, magnesium, creatine, elements the microbes require to continue living and growing’ Professor Ieropoulos said.
He went on that the invention could potentially be ‘built into the fabric of houses and draw on urine to provide power.’
Co-host Dr Zoe Laughlin also got to look at the inner workings of the UK’s largest sewage works as the stream (literally – think of a brown river) of waste was processed through it.
One particularly grim moment came during screening when she was shown by a member of staff the amount of wet wipes that had been left behind, all held together by human hair in a sort of grim, soggy quilt.
Dr Laughlin was also shown the benefits of a compost toilet which was used to grow apples and other fruit and vegetables – above ground, of course.
The Secret Science of Sewage is available on BBC iPlayer.
Credit: Original article published here.