STATES CHRONICLE – Here’s a weird question. Have you ever thought about powering a device with nothing but your pee? You probably haven’t. But if you did, don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first. Or the last. Scientists from the University of the West of England came up with a brilliant, yet highly… unlikely energy source: pee-powered socks that generate electricity.
Yeah, you read that right. The new invention from the British BioEnergy Centre might come as a surprise to those of us who don’t study alternative energy sources, but apparently it’s been in development for a while.
The socks, developed by scientists from the University of the West of England, use technology that converts bacteria from waste products, like urine, into electricity. The technology is called microbial fuel cells, or MFC, and the cells are filled with bacteria that convert pee into power.
Ioannis Ieropoulos, the study’s author, is a researcher from the British BioEnergy Centre, and claims that he wanted the socks to be part of a self-sufficient system, using the urine as fuel and the movements of the wearer’s feet as a pumping system.
The design behind the socks comes with a soft silicon tube lining that is connected to the ankle area, which contains the microbial fuel cells. Walking around generates the pumping system to activate, sending the yellow liquid from a 640 milliliter container (bladder, if you will), through the series of silicon tubes, into the power cell itself, which uses the bacterial colonies to transform the pee into electrical energy.
The researchers behind the prototype had already studied MFC cells before, managing to power a cell phone with urine. So, of course, the next natural step would be to apply the same premise, only for wearable technology.
And this isn’t nearly the end of the line for our ambitious protagonists.
The lead author claimed that other forms of organic waste could also be turned into electricity by the MFC cells, but before we get into that, we might want to address some of the problems encountered with the device we’re currently analyzing.
One of those would be the lack of a viable solution to get the urine to the socks. So unless you want to walk around with a tube leading from your underwear to your socks, you’re going to have to wait until the scientists finish the prototype wee socks.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, I was talking about other forms of organic waste that have the potential of being turned into energy.
The issue is, nobody is really looking into that. The researchers are currently working on the applicability of the technology in wearable items of clothing. Perhaps after they are done with this project, they will start looking into ways of applying the alternative fuel source to the current, highly-debated issue of fossil fuels.
Until then, I bid you wee-free socks!
Image source: Wikimedia