After the global agreement to cut back carbon emissions at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, any environmentally friendly source of energy is an opportunity to keep global warming well below two degrees celsius. That being said, Bristol BioEnergy Centre Scientists from the University of the West of England (UWE) have recently developed an unconventional but resourceful energy source in the form of a pair of socks powered by human urine.
The scientists say the socks could help push further research into urine and waste-based energy and harness the potential of using urine to specifically power wearable devices or even smartphones.
Still in its prototype phase, the socks are embedded with tiny microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are able to drive an electric current using bacteria like those found in urine. The MFCs are charged up by the urine circulating in the socks, and the urine is circulated when the wearer walks around and creates a pumping action by compressing a series of small tubes fitted under the heels of the feet.
Head of the research team, Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos elaborates on what they set out to achieve when developing the urine-powered socks:
“We 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.”