A revolutionary new urinal, which activates the lights in a public toilet cubicle when urine hits the bowl, is set to go into production soon. This could mean potentially massive savings for local authorities and other institutions.
The new urinals, developed by the University of the West of England (UWE) along with Oxfam, were originally intended to assist people in refugee camps in places like Africa, as they collect urine for energy to power lights.
While one fuel cell costs around a dollar, each new urinal could be fitted at a cost of roughly $1,000 each, which could offer a breakthrough in sanitation for refugees and others.
Professor Loannis Leropoulos, lead researcher and director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, told reporters, “We have already proved that this way of generating electricity works. This exciting project with Oxfam could have a huge impact in refugee camps.”
In explaining a little more detail about how the new urinals work, Leropoulos said, “The microbial fuel cells work by employing live microbes which feed on urine (fuel) for their own growth and maintenance. 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.”
He also pointed out that the new urinals are green, very green, adding, “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.”
Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam, Andy Bastable, also spoke to reporters about the new invention, saying, “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.”
It hoped by all involved that larger production will start soon, in order to help those in refugee camps and save money for municipalities and public institutions.