Talk about a real-life MacGyver: Dr. Loannis Lerepoulos of the Bristol Robotics Lab has received a grant to research the energy applications of urine, Science Daily reports. The lab has been working on a robot that runs off of microbial fuel cells, bacterial cultures that break down nutrients to create power—and could help to transform the waste product. “Over the years we have fed our MFCs with rotten fruit, grass clippings, prawn shells, and dead flies,” Lerepoulos said. “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.” Though he admits that his research is still in its early stages, the researchers are already in touch with a urinal company (yes, those kind of urinals) about a potential collaboration. “We hope to work toward producing a prototype portable urinal which would use urine to create power from fuel cells,” he said. “We envisage that this could be used, for example, at music festivals and other outdoor events."
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