British Researchers Stack Bacteria to Turn Urine into Electricity

10/05/2016 - 3 minutes

Researchers from Bristol in the UK developed a new design of microbial fuel cells (MFCs), a more efficient way to use wastewater to produce electricity. 

Want to power your smartphone with your pee? Biotechnology has been diligently working on the idea for decades now, with microbial fuel cells (MFCs).

A fuel cell is a technology that can transform chemical energy, in the form of reduced molecules (that have electrons available), into electrical energy – a specially useful form of energy.

In MFCs, microorganisms are used to bridge this conversion process. The microorganisms ‘breathe‘ the reduced molecules containing chemical energy, and then transfer the electrons to the anode (the ‘minus’ end of a battery) – thus producing electricity.

The idea has been around for more than a century, but scientists are still struggling with making the process efficient enough.

Now, researchers at Bristol BioEnergy Centre (B-BiC) have published a breakthrough in Biotechnology for Biofuels

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