Manneken Pic (Brussels, Belgium). Photo by Lorenzo Blangiardi | flickr.com

In the not so distant future, your average ‘pop for a pee moment’ might not be such a mundane experience after all.  In fact, recent research has demonstrated that your pee can be used in the generation of electricity. Imagine a world where your next pee may contribute to the power that will heat your next cup of coffee. Yes, the one that makes you need to pee again.

Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos and his team of scientists at the University of the West of England, Bristol, have recently demonstrated that the cocktail of chemicals available in urine can combine with bacteria to generate a fuel cell. The recent publication demonstrates that these fuel cells are viable on a laboratory scale and that there is scope for energy generation on a much larger scale.

When considering the population of humans and farm animals combined, approximately 38 billion liters of urine are produced each day. This provides the scope for the generation of around 25 petajoules of energy annually. Further, large volumes of untreated urine can pose a hazard to the environment when not correctly managed. Use of urine in these fuel cells serves to clean the urine, thus reducing the costly requirement of wastewater treatment. After this, the cleaned urine can also serve as a well-balanced agricultural fertilizer. It seems that Ieropoulos has managed to turn our ubiquitous waste product into three different environmental benefits, all in one go.

Real world applicability of this technology is already being considered by Michael Eavis, the founder of the Glastonbury Festival. Eavis hopes that festival attendants may pee their way to a wonderful weekend by helping to power the event in the process. Now we all have an excuse for that one extra beer, we’re powering the cooler and saving the environment in the process.

Posted
AuthorJoseph Bailey