Smartphone and iPhone battery life is a major complaint for power users who never seem to have enough power, but a new technology demo can turn something you’ll never run out of into power for a smartphone.
The Bristol Robotics Laboratory is working on a new fuel cell that is powered by urine.
That’s right, a pee powered phone.
At this stage there is no iPhone or Android phone with a special urine compartment to make charging and relieving yourself on a road trip easier. Rather support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Technology strategy board funds the exploration of turning urine into electricity.
In the video above Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos demonstrates the ability to charge a smartphone with the power of urine. The demo shows a Samsung phone, but because the microbial fuel cells are working outside of a phone ideally this setup could also charge a smartphone like the iPhone.
Ieropoulos’ goal is to turn urine into electricity with a microbial fuel cell. After much work the team was able to use this technology which uses the same “bugs” that exist in soil or inside your intestines to break down urine, which creates electricity.
Why choose urine to power a smartphone? According to Dr. Ieropoulos,
“Urine is exceptionally good as a fuel for those microorganisms.”
The video details how this all works, showing off connected stages that collectively deliver enough power to charge a cell phone. In the current stage this process is bulky and not integrated into a phone.
This team is performing research into further developing a process that turns urine into power with a focus on bringing this technology to the developing world.
Nokia is already delivering a $20 cheap phone for developing markets and just announced a Nokia Lumia 625 Windows Phone powered smartphone that appears destined for emerging markets. Apple’s rumored budget iPhone could also make an appearance later this year with a focus on emerging markets.
Even if the technology to turn urine into electricity doesn’t arrive on a smartphone in the near future, other researchers are looking into new battery technology that could help deliver an iPhone that charges in as little as 5 seconds and battery technology that lasts 10 times longer than the batteries found in current smartphones.