n Thursday 5 March, British newspaper The Independent featured a report on technology developed by the University of the West of England (UWE) and the charity Oxfam: a toilet that turns urine into power.
The urinal, which is similar in design to the toilets used in refugee camps, is currently being tested in a students’ union bar on campus,and the urine is used to fuel microbial fuel cells which generate electricity and power lighting.
The technology was developed by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre located in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at UWE Bristol.
The professor says that each microbial fuel cell costs about £1 to make, and a full toilet could cost as little as £600.
"We have already proved that this way of generating electricity works," the professor said to The Independent. "The microbial fuel cell 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."
If it proves to be successful, the technology will be used in refugee camps and other inaccessible areas.