The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is on a mission to improve human sanitation, particularly in areas of the world that don't have a reliable water supply. Much of that effort is about reinventing the toilet but the foundation has also challenged scientists to find ways to turn human waste into something useful. Enter Bristol Robotics Laboratory in Bristol, England. Scientists there have developed technology that converts human urine into electricity that can be used to powered a smartphone, as spotted by the Register's Jasper Hamill.

The scientists have demonstrated their wee-powered battery charging a smartphone. They've been awarded a grant from Bill Gates' foundation to develop the tech further.

Here's how it works:

That little round thing is called a Microbial Fuel Cell. Inside of it is are micro-organisms that take the urine, break it down and output electricity.

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