New urinals can generate a wee bit of electricity

New urinals can power their own lighting by transforming urine into electricity. Researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE) have created the device to improve sanitation facilities […]

Register now!

By Jonny Bairstow

New urinals can power their own lighting by transforming urine into electricity.

Researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE) have created the device to improve sanitation facilities in areas where there is limited electricity generation.

The technology is based on microbial fuel cells, which decompose the urine, generating enough energy to power lighting for the cubicle. This was successfully tested at Glastonbury Festival this summer.

8TH JULY - GLASTONBURY
Image: Shutterstock

Irene Merino, one of the UWE researchers said: “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; in other words, it also serves to treat the urine.”

The researchers are now collaborating with charities to test these urinals in Indian and African communities, refugee camps, schools and public toilets lacking lighting.

Ioannis Ieropoulos, Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre said: “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.”