Urinetricity MFC


  • Descriptive Overview
    The Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) generates electricity by processing organic waste such as urine and wastewater. It is small enough to be built into a urinal, and multiple MFCs can be linked together in a “stack” to process greater volumes and increase power output. Compared to traditional MFCs, this technology uses ceramic housing (terracotta) as its membrane, which results in producing disinfectant solutions (ECAS), fertilizer, and is being explored as a platform technology for denitrification and nutrient recovery from urine. Key features: - System design can be a retrofit or a small, cubicle cell - System produces electricity via microbial breakdown of organic compounds in urine - Novel, cheap membranes improve cost effectiveness. Membrane-less is also possible - Generates a byproduct which can be used as a disinfectant
  • Use Case Details
    System is a single unit that is scalable; multiple MFCs can be stacked to accommodate large volumes. Stacks can process urine from multiple stalls fitted with diversion toilets.
  • Other Waste Accepted
    The Urinetricity MFC accepts organic waste (liquids/urine).
  • Regularly Scheduled Required Maintenance
    Minimal maintenance is required and only if blockage occurs.
  • Use Cases
    • Urinal
    • Single-stall Toilet
    • Multi-stall Toilet
  • Frontend Description
    Urine diversion at the user interface or solid/liquid separation must occur upstream of the MFC.
  • Users per Day (Expected)
    Scalable by incorporating multiple MFCs into a larger stack. Prior installations have served as many at 1,000 people/day at a music festival in Glastonbury, UK.
  • Users per Day (Maximum)
  • Type of Waste Treated
    Liquids Processing
  • Core Processing Technology
  • Processing Overview
    Organic compounds and pathogens in urine are consumed by a microbial community in the MFC, performing redox reactions.
  • Processing Parameters
    Can process a small concentration of solids at a low Total Suspended Solids concentration. Has been demonstrated to suppress/kill or even consume pathogens.
  • Power Systems Overview
    Movement of cations is enabled through a cation exchange membrane, and results in electrons moving between the electrodes generating current.
  • Energy Balance
    An estimated 30 mW or more of electricity can be generated per liter of urine.
  • Control System
    PLC used to monitor power output and increase capacity. Level of input to the cell is also monitored.
  • Currently in Active Development
  • Commercialization Status
    Seeking Licensees
  • Commercialization Activities
    Pilot systems deployed in both small volume (university campus) and large volume (Glastonbury music festival with 1000 people/day powering the area lights and information boards). Currently seeking commercial partners to license and commercialize the technology.
  • Intellectual Property Status
    Patent Granted
  • Intellectual Property Details
    Patented in EU (EP2684242B1), Great Britain (GB201104046D0), China (CN103518282B) Patents pending in the United States (US 2014/0057136 A1) and WO2016120641A1
  • Nutrient Reuse
    100% discharge of all processed liquids. Exploring disinfectant production. Exploring the potential of processed liquids to be used as fertilizer.
  • Liquid Emission Characteristics
    100% discharge of all processed liquids, of effluent equal input volume. Effluent is pathogen-free.
  • Technology Development Milestones
  • Proof of Concept
    TRL: 3 (2013)
    System was proven in the lab, with results published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics in 2013
  • Real-world Prototype Testing
    TRL: 5 (2015)
    Testing of the TRL 5 system was conducted on campus at the university starting in 2015; this system remains operational on campus. This configuration has also been tested 3 subsequent years at increasingly high-volumes at the Glastonbury music festival, UK.
  • Pilot-scale Field Testing
    TRL: 7 (2018)
    Pilot-scale field testing with Oxfam in Africa and in a demonstration system at Heathrow Airport.
  • Linked Complete Systems
  • None linked
Patent Number Description Link
EP2684242 Microbial fuel cell Link
WO2016120641 Microbial fuel cell, method of controlling and measuring the redox potential difference of the fuel cell Link