Power To The Peeing People: New Prototype Toilet Converts Urine To Electricity

Techniques for harnessing sustainable energy have expanded tremendously in the last few years, and power has been found to be accessible from some rather unorthodox sources.  Now, gathering power is apparently as easy as taking a trip to the restroom...

"Drink up!  We're pee-powering the nation of Rwanda tonight!"
(Image courtesy blog.cureus.com.)

According to the Guardian UK, the University of the West of England has developed a prototype urinal that converts the power of pee into energy via microbial fuel cells (MFCs.)  The microbes in the fuel cell feed off of the urine and convert it into electricity, which the inventors believe could make huge strides in providing sustainable power in remote areas, like refugee camps.

A good reason to go out and get pissed:  the prototype pee-power plant in England.
(Image courtesy belfasttelegraph.co.uk.)

Professor Iannos Ieropoulos, director the Bristol Energy Centre, explained, “The MFC is in effect a system which taps a portion of that biochemical energy used for microbial growth, and converts that directly into electricity - what we are calling urine-tricity or pee power. This technology is about as green as it gets, as we do not need to utilise fossil fuels and we are effectively using a waste product that will be in plentiful supply."

At a cost of £600 to set up, the pee-power is a bit pricey on the front end, but would remain significantly sustainable after the initial setup. The version set up in the UK (conveniently near the university bar) allows for the power generators (a.k.a. drunk students) to watch through a clear panel as the MFCs convert their contribution. According to the Independent UK, the cells themselves only cost £1, which could enable the technology to spread well in poorer area. This could solve a major power problem in refugee camps: how to maintain proper illumination for refugee residents. 

No, your pee doesn't just turn tiny waterwheels to generate power in this machine.
(Image courtesy rsc.org.)

"It is always a challenge to light inaccessible areas far from a power supply," explained Andy Bastable, head of Water and Sanitation for Oxfam. "This technology is a huge step forward. Living in a refugee camp is hard enough without the added threat of being assaulted in dark places at night. The potential of this invention is huge.”

It's an unexpected way to derive power, but it's sustainable power nonetheless! Now, 6.4 trillion tons of urine worldwide are ready to brighten up the future.

All the hobo pee in NYC could light up Times Square!
(Image courtesy joeyblsphotography.com.)

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