University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) researchers say they have developed the first self-sufficient system powered by a wearable energy generator based on microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology.
MFCs use bacteria to generate electricity from waste fluids by tapping into the biochemical energy used for microbial growth and converting it directly into electricity. The new system consists of soft MFCs embedded within a pair of socks, which are supplied fresh urine circulated by the human operator while walking. The system also includes a manual pump based on a simple fish circulatory system. The action of walking causes the urine to pass over the MFCs and generate energy, while soft tubes, placed under the heels, ensure frequent fluid push-pull by walking.
The researchers found the wearable MFC system was able to successfully run a wireless transmission board, which could send a message every two minutes to the PC-controlled receiver module.
"We also 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," says UWE Bristol professor Ioannis Ieropoulos. He says the research could lead to using waste for powering portable and wearable electronics, and recent research shows it should be possible to develop a system based on wearable MFC technology to transmit a user's coordinates in an emergency situation.
From University of the West of England, Bristol
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