Scientists Develop Socks That Generate Electricity Using Urine

Posted: Dec 11 2015, 9:03pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 12 2015, 12:03pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Develop Socks that Turn Urine into Electricity
Image shows a sock holding urine pumped by wearer's footsteps. Credit: University of West England

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Pee-power socks turn urine into electricity.

Urine is not as worthless as once was thought. People can make a good use of it.

Researchers from the University of West England have developed a pair of socks that can generate electricity using human urine.

A series of soft silicon tubes are incorporated into the socks that can hold up to 648 milliliters of urine, a little more than a bladder can store. Walking around in the socks pushes the liquid through microbial fuel cells (MFCs), a device contains bacteria that can eat up nutrients in urine and turn it into electricity. The fuel cells power a wireless transmitter that sends a message ‘First Wearable MFCs’ after every two minute.

Using urine to create electricity is not an entirely new idea, such efforts have been made before. The new thing is incorporating it into a wearable technology that relay purely on human activity. Each movement of step forces a little urine to pass over the tubes placed under the heels.

“Having already powered a mobile phone with MFCs using urine as fuel, we wanted to see if could replicate this success in wearable technology,” said lead experimenter Ioannis Ieropoulos. “We also wanted the system to be entirely self-sufficient, running only on human power – using urine as fuel and the action of the foot as the pump.”

This pee-power technology has a capacity to convert any form of organic waste into useful energy, making it a valuable green technology.

“This work opens up possibilities of using waste for powering portable and wearable electronics. For example, recent research shows it should be possible to develop a system based on wearable MFC’s technology to transmit a person’s coordinates in an emergency situation. At the same time this would indicate proof of life since the device will only work if the operator’s urine fuels the MFCs.”

Currently, university is utilizing the technology to light up refugee camps in disaster zones.

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