Have you ever been to the toilet and thought “there has to be something better I could do with my urine than flush it away”? Well, that
question has been baffling scientists worldwide, until now.
Scientists at the University of the West of England, have been experimenting with ways of making urine into fuel. According to the BBC, the research being conducted at UWE is a World First, which we presume means no other scientists have considered the possibility of fuelling society through its own excretions.
This is such an innovative research project, that here at Newsnibbles we found it hard to take the piss. Since so much urine has already been extracted it would seem overdone anyway.
The results of the study are promising. Tests have produced small levels of energy and the hope is that further research will produce “useful” levels of energy. Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos told the BBC that he was “excited by the potential of the work” – hopefully not such much that he wastes “energy”…
Here’s a “sciency bit” – we have formatted it slightly differently in order that you may skip down to the next bit of Nibbling, should you prefer to do so.
The bacteria in urine are living organisms. Like all living organisms they respire. The anaerobic respiration of the bacteria produces energy. Scientists at UWE hope to harness this energy and eventually produce enough to power a small village.
Dr Ieropoulos told the BBC:
“Urine is chemically rich in substances favourable to the MFCs. Through this study… we were able to show that by miniaturisation and multiplication of the number of MFCs into a stack and regulating the flow of urine, it may be possible to look at scales of use that have the potential to produce useful levels of power, for example in a domestic or small village setting.”
Here at Newsnibbles, it is our hope that soon, villages opposed to wind farms can be given the choice between “going green” or “going yellow” – presumably urine won’t ruin the landscape…
As always, we asked the fans to tell us their urine related experiences. Well, we don’t always ask them about urine, that would be weird, but we always ask them a question relating to the story at hand. They did not disappoint:
Chimp said: “The many uses of urine include fertilizer and hair care… oh and emergency drinking water.” Which is nice. We’re glad we do the radio show remotely, his distinctive odour could overpower our intellectual discussions otherwise…
Helen said: “I once put some in a water pistol and squirted it at someone who deserved it – in their face…”
Denise said: “I had to collect mine for 48 hrs for a specific medical test.” That was one long wee… we are unclear whether the test was for energy levels, and frankly didn’t like to ask.
You can read the full story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-15636544
You can read the research here: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2011/cp/c1cp23213d
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