PEE POWER® has been given a prime location at Glastonbury Festival just a few hundred metres from the Pyramid stage to showcase turning urine into electricity. Developed by scientists at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre (BBiC) in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Pee Power has been shown to be capable of powering lights and charging mobile phones. This year the urinal, which is the closest to the Pyramid stage at this years’ festival, will for the first time power up displays giving information and festival updates.
How does Pee Power work?
Pee Power works via stacks of microbial fuel cells that use urine as a fuel for direct electricity generation when live bacteria consumes urine for their growth and maintenance. The MFC technology taps a portion of that biochemical energy used for microbial growth, and converts it directly into electricity. This technology can utilise any form of organic waste and turn it into useful energy, without relying on fossil fuels, which is something that renders the MFCs green and beneficial to society.
“This fantastic exposure for Pee Power follows the establishment of a strategic relationship sealed in a memorandum of understanding between the University and the Festival last month.
“The Pee Power at Glastonbury project is the result of our close collaboration with our partners Oxfam and Dunster House and our collective effort to improve lives in refugee camps and areas of the world with no sanitation or electricity. This fits well with the charities and organisations that have traditionally received support from the Glastonbury Festival over the years.”
The team will be showing two units – one by the Cider Bus close to the Pyramid Stage that can accommodate up to 40 people. Scientists and student volunteers working in the BBiC will be on hand to explain how the technology works. It is anticipated that at peak times there will be over 1,000 litres of urine per day generating enough Pee Power to charge ten information panels. The panels will give festival updates about bands and other useful snippets of information.
Professor Ieropoulos said, “This unit is primarily about public engagement and Glastonbury Festival gives us the chance to showcase our technology to potentially thousands of people. The festival updates are one way of showing that Pee Power and the Microbial Fuel Cell technology can be developed for a whole range of uses.”
“The second unit will be located at the area known as the inter stage near the press enclave and performers area. This unit will include a mobile phone charging unit and internal lighting.
“We are hoping that journalists and star performers will want to know more – we are confident that the exhibits will be a talking point.”
Later this year the Pee Power urinals will be taken to Uganda for the first ever overseas trial. I’m excited to see how this works – this technology turns our waste into electricity. Could it be scaled down to provide some power for homes? Maybe public loos could use it to display local information.
The Pee Power project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Image above by Aranxa Esteve.