The ick factor is high, but scientists say urine can help charge cellphones

The newest source of battery power for your cellphone is both cheap and abundant.

Scientists at the University of the West of England report that microbial fuel cells using human urine can directly power a cellphone battery. The researchers first demonstrated in 2011 that urine is viable fuel: As it cascades through a series of fuel cells, hungry bacteria consume it and release electrons, which generate an electrical current.

The new research, published in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, presents two devices for converting human waste into talk time. They might help people in remote areas stay connected, though they are not quite portable enough to use during a marathon pub crawl. One consists of six ceramic cylinders that are four inches long; the other is a network of 25 smaller fuel cells.

ScienceNow , the daily online news service of the journal Science