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UWE Students Wee To Save The Planet By Turning Urine Into Energy

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Students at the University of the West of England (also known as ironically UWE) in Bristol are doing their bit for environment - by emptying their bladders.

The university unveiled their "Pee-Power" toilets on Thursday, encouraging people on campus to donate their urine to test the technology. Unlit toilets in disaster zones leave people at risk to sexual abuse and attacks, so this technology could potentially prove lifesaving.

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Using microbial fuel cells, the futuristic lavatories convert wee into energy and store it, and are cleverly located just outside the student bar.

uwe bristol toilet

The microbial fuel cells work to illuminate the toilet

"The microbial fuel cells work by employing live microbes which feed on urine (fuel) for their own growth and maintenance," a professor at UWE said.

"The MFC 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.

"One microbial fuel cell costs about £1 to make, and we think that a small unit like the demo we have mocked up for this experiment could cost as little as £600 to set up, which is a significant bonus as this technology is in theory everlasting."

The demonstration has been set up with the help of Oxfam, who hope to use the technology to help people in the third world.

Andy Bastable, Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam, said: "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."

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