Researchers Use Urine-Fueled Socks to Generate Electricity

Pee stands for power.

Know what the number one priority is? You would if you had to go. And everybody does, at some point. That’s why researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology and University of the West of England—who are surely the envy of their peershave developed special socks inspired by a fish’s circulatory system that turn urine into electricity.

In tests, these self-sufficient socks generated enough juice to power a wireless programmable communication module. The idea being that in an emergency, most people get really pissy—especially if their mobile phone battery dies.

The way they work is: When the user walks, it pumps the urine contained in an intricate series of tubes past MFCs (microbial fuel cells), which turn the liquid waste into electricity. Below are some images that were (ahem) “leaked” to the press:

Photo credit: Bioinspiration and Biomimetics

You’ll notice that we didn’t mention anything about a catheter. That’s because they’re meant to be self-contained. Yes, the implication is that you as an outdoorsy survivalist type—or more likely someone in the military or space programs— would be walking around with someone else’s pee. Or perhaps this technology could be strategically implemented into particular textiles. But they could be theoretically designed to introduce the fresh stuff.

This isn’t the first time electrifying excretions have been considered. As a proof of concept, this is a step in the right direction. But it’s not likely to manifest as an actual consumer product any time soon, if ever. So try not to be pissed.

Photos by Zensah Compression Technology