The research team (l-r): Ph.D. student Jon Chouler, Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, and Dr. Petra Cameron.
A microbial fuel cell uses natural biological processes of ‘electric’ bacteria to turn organic matter, such as urine, into electricity. These fuel cells are efficient and relatively cheap to run, and produce nearly zero waste compared to other methods of electricity generation. Urine passes through the microbial fuel cell for the reaction to happen. From here, electricity is generated by the bacteria, and can then be stored or used to directly power electrical devices.

This novel fuel cell measures one inch square in size and uses a carbon catalyst at the cathode, which is derived from glucose and ovalbumin, a protein found in egg white. This biomass-derived catalyst is a renewable and much cheaper alternative to platinum, commonly used in other microbial fuel cells. By stacking multiple units together, the power is proportionally increased.