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Emergency Urine-Powered Socks

(Photo: Ioannis Ieropoulos, et al.)

If you want to survive, you must immediately take off your socks and pee on them. No, right now!

As we've noted in the past, urine can be used to fuel tiny electrical generators called microbial fuel cells. This can be useful in an emergency when you don't have a battery handy, but you did drink way too much coffee before the crisis began.

Now researchers at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK have put that design concept into practical use. They've developed socks that, when soaked in human urine, provide electricity. Simply walking around in the urine-soaked socks provides the necessary pumping action. After two minutes of walking, the very smelly user has enough electricity to juice up a radio transmitter. The New Scientist explains how it works:

Aiming to make a self-sufficient, wearable device that works anywhere without additional power, the team created a manual foot pump inspired by how fish use involuntary muscles to circulate blood around their bodies.

Instead of muscle, the pump uses flexible silicone tubes, which wrap under the heels and connect to bendy MFCs near the ankles. Each step taken squeezes and releases the tubes to pump the urine around.

-via Dave Barry


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