A team of scientists recently created a public urinal that generates its own electricity through something unusual: Urine.
According to the study published in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, electricity is harnessed from urine through bacterial metabolism. Researcher Irene Merino explained that they based their invention on microbial fuel cells (MFC) that have anodes and cathodes, just like batteries.
The technology involves storing the said cells in a urine-collecting container. Inside the container, the bacteria will act as a catalyst, helping in the urine’s decomposition and release of protons, which will then travel from the anode to electrons, creating energy through an external circuit.
To test the electricity-generating urinal, the scientists installed one at the Glastonbury music festival in the United Kingdom.
Results showed that the energy generated from the collected urine is enough to keep the cubicle’s LED bulbs working. This prototype contained 432 MFC, which generated 300 milliwatts, Science Daily reported.
Another field test has been carried out among a smaller number of participants at the campus of the West England University. This particular prototype yielded lesser MFC and energy at 288 and 75 milliwatts, respectively.
Loannis Leropoulos, lead author of the study, said their aim in creating this technology is to improve children and women safety in impoverished areas who use communal toilets.
“The ultimate purpose is to get electricity to light the toilets, and possibly also the outside area, in impoverished regions, which may help improve the safety of women and children, in countries where they have to use communal toilet facilities outside their homes,” she said.
Merino added that the electricity-generating urinal also aims to help in improving sanitary facilities in developing countries.
“Our project is aimed at developing countries, with a view to improving or incorporating sanitary facilities. In addition to producing electricity, the system reduces chemical oxygen demand (COD); in other words, it also serves to treat the urine,” she said.
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