Urine to be used as power source for robots

     Think twice before you use the flush after a pee, for according to researchers at the Bristol Robotics Lab, urine could actually be used as an alternative power source for future robots. The project is a follow-up to another self-sustaining robot, the EcoBot- III , which ingests biomass for energy, and poop it out when it's done. It is believed that instead of excreting the urine, it could recycle it to power a microbial fuel cell ( MFC ). This kind of fuel cell uses bacterial cultures to break down 'food' to create power. Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulo, one of the researchers working on this project, explains in a press release that "Urine is chemically very active, rich in nitrogen and has compounds such as urea, chloride, potassium and bilirubin, which make it very good for the microbial fuel cells. We have already done preliminary tests which show it being a waste material that is very effective. Although it is early days for this research, we hope to work towards producing a prototype portable urinal which would use urine to create power from fuel cells. We envisage that this could be used for example at music festivals and other outdoor events,” Discovery News quoted him as saying. Ieropoulo will use this concept to develop stacks of MFCs that can deliver the energy efficiently. Alternative energy sources like urine have only become more popular as we have learned more about the dangers of continuing to rely on fossil fuels for energy. Algae could replace gasoline in our cars, and antimatter could soon fuel our spaceships, to name just a couple examples. This development could also help conserve water, on top of saving energy. The researchers have been working with a company that builds waterless urinals to find a way to divert that urine somewhere more useful than a treatment plant.

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