Not only is this prototype an ingenious way of providing electricity by using a set of microbial fuel cell (MFC) convertor stacks powered by urine, but it may also help to harness and reduce the vast amounts of waste liquid generated in refugee camps that often house many tens of thousands of people. This could help in reducing pollution and assisting in improving the sanitation and general living conditions, thereby relieving a little more stress factor from these already often over-burdened areas.

Based on earlier prototypes produced at UWE Bristol that were used to power mobile phones, the latest work is the result of a partnership between researchers at UWE Bristol and Oxfam. Led by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory that originally built the microbial fuel cell used in these latest trials, the team has high hopes that the work will make a real difference to many of the people around the world displaced by war, famine, or natural disaster.

“We have already proved that this way of generating electricity works. Work by the Bristol BioEnergy Centre hit the headlines in 2013 when the team demonstrated that electricity generated by microbial fuel cell stacks could power a mobile phone. This exciting project with Oxfam could have a huge impact in refugee camps,” said Professor Ieropoulos.

Urinal prototype uses fuel cells to generate steady stream of electricity [Gizmag]



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