Researchers Teaming With Oxfam To Develop Toilet That Uses Urine To Generate Electricity

In an effort to bring sustainable sources of light to dark places, researchers working with Oxfam are working on a toilet that uses urine to generate electricity, in turn lighting up lavatories in places like refugee camps.

The new lavatories are being tested by students in England before they’re employed in places like refugee camps, according to a press release from the University of the West of England or UWE Bristol.

Having light in the cubicles is especially important in refugee camps, “which can often be dark and dangerous places, particularly for women,” the release notes.

“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,” says Andy Bastable, Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam in the release. “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 prototype urinal collects pee and uses microbial fuel cell stacks to generate electricity from the waste, says the head of the research team, Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos.

“We have already proved that this way of generating electricity works. Work by the Bristol BioEnergy Center hit the headlines in 2013 when the team demonstrated that electricity generated by microbial fuel cell stacks could power a mobile phone,” he says. “This exciting project with Oxfam could have a huge impact in refugee camps.”

‘Pee-power’ to light camps in disaster zones [UWE Bristol]

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