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billmelindagatesfoundationlogoThanks to a team at the University of West England, Bristol, it may be possible to power a cell phone with pee sometime in the near future, with help from Bill Gates.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that it awarded a number of grants to teams focusing on improving sanitation as a part of its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. In addition to the urine-powered microbial fuel cells, the grants will be helping a number of teams around the world with similar projects like waterless toilets and the transformation of a steam sanitizer into a biofuel converter.

And while it may seem silly to be talking about using human waste as a power source, the Gates Foundation says that the new tech will help improve sanitation, while providing other benefits to communities that need them.

“Today, 2.5 billion people practice open defecation or lack adequate toilet facilities  so we are always looking for new ways to ensure that less human waste winds up in the environment, untreated,” Brian Arbogast, director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the foundation said in a press release. “Innovations don’t need to be complicated or expensive in order to be impactful which is why we are so excited about the range of approaches these projects represent.”

The Gates Foundation recently announced that Susan Desmond-Hellman, the Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, will be joining as its new CEO in May.

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