Researchers from the University of the West of England in Bristol have become the first in the world to generate power using straight urine as a fuel source. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are nothing new, but rather than urine they're generally fed using specific bacteria normally found in the soil or human gut, combined with sugars and other chemical components. The bacteria then undergoes anaerobic respiration as it feeds on the sugars, causing electrons to be released which are drawn towards a cathode and used as electricity. Although the amount of power generated by these early experiments was small, more research could lead to "useful" levels of electricity being made by the process in future.

The paper also reports that even after its use in an MFC, it's possible to extract pure Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium from the urine for use in fertilisers — for double the fun. Research is ongoing to try to increase the output of the process.

Image credit: Chris Owen (Flickr)