Solar-Powered Machine Turns Urine into Drinkable Water and Beer

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You may soon be drinking your urine…… sounds unbelievable but real. A group of Belgian researchers from the University of Ghent have built a solar- powered machine that can turn urine into drinkable water and beer.

In experimenting the viability of the new innovation, the scientists set up their purifying machine at a 10-day music and theater festival in Ghent, Belgium, where they collected 1,000 liters of water from attendees’ urine and turned it into beer. “We call it from sewer to brewer,” one of the researchers, Sebastian Derese said.

To treat the urine, they used the energy from the sun to power membrane distillation, which the team says “holds possible advantages over existing urine treatment technologies.”

This was made possible through a membrane distillation that gets rid of 95 percent of all ammonia present in urine. The liquid is collected in a big tank and is heated in a solar-powered boiler. The heated urine then passes through the membrane which separates out the water as well as nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, which can be used to make fertilizers.

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According to the team, the possibility of potable water production was investigated in human urine by assessing the permeate water quality, maximum recovery and mid-term process stability. It was shown that at least 75 percent of the available water could be recovered from non-hydrolyzed human urine without process failure. As such, membrane distillation is a viable alternative for existing urine treatment.

They added that Membrane distillation is principally useful because it is particularly energy-efficient. “We are able to recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy”.

Their ultimate goal is for the urine-purifying machine to be placed in various frequently-visited public spaces such as airports and also to help out rural areas in the developing world where there is shortage of clean drinkable water.

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