Watch CBS News

British Researchers Developing Urine-Powered Electronic Devices

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Keeping your cell phone charged might one day be as easy as answering nature's call.

Call it pee power...

"Urine is exceptionally good as a fuel for those micro-organisms," says Ionnis Ieropoulos, an engineer at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, in England, whose team has developed a microbial fuel cell.

"It takes the waste that we naturally produce and it converts it directly into electricty," Ieropolous explains.

The fuel cell contains live micro-organisms, "live bugs -- the same bugs we'd find in sediment, in soil, even in our gut for digestion."

In a web video posted by the University of the West of England, Ieropoulos explains that as those bugs digest the urine, they create an electrical charge.

"We've got to the point where we can now power up a mobile phone -- a normal mobile phone," he says.

Watch the Video

The challenge now is to make it smaller (though you probably don't want this to be a portable thing).  The idea is to install it in bathrooms -- especially in developing countries, where it would be an inexpensive way to juice up.

More CBS Philly Tech News

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.