People tend to get squeamish about human waste, but what if it could create power? That’s just what the new project by the University of West England in Bristol and Oxfam is developing, a urinal that creates power from urine. The goal of this pee powered toilet is to provide aid and light to refugee camps which would improve safety. The creators of the project emphasize the danger particularly to the woman of the camps, who are often attacked and raped while trying to use the portable toilets. The head of water and sanitation at Oxfam University stated, “Oxfam is an expert at providing sanitation in disaster zones, and it is always a challenge to light inaccessible areas far from a power supply. 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.”
The way the portable restrooms create energy is through the Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC). The MFC technology converts organic waste into electricity as Dr. Ieropoulos lead researcher and Associate Professor at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory 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 utilize fossil fuels and we are effectively using a waste product that will be in plentiful supply.” so far the prototype is located on the university’s campus and looks similar to portable restrooms at the camps. What makes this a sustainable technology is it only depends on the ever flowing supply of free urine, which is guaranteed not to run out.