The drive to develop renewable energy solutions has seen a rise in the adoption of solar-powered homes, battery-powered cars, and more. It has become a top priority of world leaders to find sustainable energy solutions and the ongoing COP26 Climate Change Summit is a testament to this.
We may soon be seeing a new form of energy generation from waste as scientists in the United Kingdom have unveiled a new clean energy fuel cell that is capable of converting human waste into electricity.
The new solution is developed by a team of researchers at Bristol BioEnergy Centre. The project is known as “pee power”, yes you read that right, and was first demonstrated by the firm at the Glastonbury Festival about two years back.
The firm is hoping to make advancements on the project that will make it possible for a deployment to power entire households someday.
At the Glastonbury Festival in 2019, scientists were able to prove that urine can produce a steady supply of electricity of low wattage. The energy produced can then be used to power lightbulbs, mobile phones, and robots. Bristol BioEnergy Centre’s director Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos explained that the solution was able to generate 300 watt-hours of electricity during the five-day festival which would have been able to power a single one-watt lightbulb for 300 hours, or 10 lightbulbs or 30 hours.
The new power generation solution deploys what the company calls microbial fuel cells. This includes several blocks that resemble batteries but are filled with a colony of microbes. The microbes feed on the organic matter which is then broken down into chemical energy and in turn generate electricity and clean wastewater.
One challenge the team faces as of now is how to reduce the size of the fuel cells such that they can be put inside bricks and integrated with the walls of homes. We will definitely be hearing more about this simple yet innovative technology moving forward!