Bristol boffins show that smartphone chargers are taking the p*ss - and so is Bill Gates

Downtime knows it is talking to the faithful in recounting tales of mobile phone batteries that never last long enough and always run out of power at the most inopportune moments. But now, “boffins” (for it is always they) may have come up with a solution. Or, to be more precise, a way to use your solution.

Scientists at the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol have developed a wearable energy generator that runs on, erm, piss.

“A pair of socks embedded with miniaturised microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and fuelled with urine pumped by the wearer’s footsteps has powered a wireless transmitter to send a signal to a PC,” proclaims the announcement.

wearablecharger.jpgYou’ll want the technical details, we’re sure, so you can start preparing your own version, so here they are:

“Soft MFCs embedded within a pair of socks was supplied with fresh urine, circulated by the human operator walking. Normally, continuous-flow MFCs would rely on a mains powered pump to circulate the urine over the microbial fuel cells, but this experiment relied solely on human activity. The manual pump was based on a simple fish circulatory system and the action of walking caused the urine to pass over the MFCs and generate energy. Soft tubes, placed under the heels, ensured frequent fluid push-pull by walking. The wearable MFC system successfully ran a wireless transmission board, which was able to send a message every two minutes to the PC-controlled receiver module.”

You will no doubt have re-read the phrase “supplied with fresh urine” several times and noted the absence of detail surrounding how the fluid is sourced. But we digress.

“Microbial fuel cells use bacteria to generate electricity from waste fluids. They tap into the biochemical energy used for microbial growth and convert it directly into electricity. This technology can use any form of organic waste and turn it into useful energy without relying on fossil fuels, making this a valuable green technology.”

And as if it wasn’t enough that Bristol boffins were taking your piss – so is Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder’s charitable foundation part-funded the research.

So, not just a way to recharge your phone on the move, but you’ll never need to worry about finding a public toilet in an emergency.