Lighting up loos all over

| June 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

At no other time in human history have there been more refugee camps around the world. So-called ‘slums’ also abound in countless countries and still, in millions of schools, children and staff have no access to basic amenities.

Where people live in clustered confines, it’s essential to have good sanitation to prevent the spread of disease. It’s also important for the safety of girls and women that ablutions are well-lit.

In April 2015, a new kind of loo was pronounced ‘good to go’. It was developed by global aid agency Oxfam and the University of the West of England in Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The toilet uses live microbes, which feed on urine and convert it into power stored in a capacitor. The model literally lights up, generating electricity in ‘real time’.

The pee-powered loo has been 14 years in the making. The latest models use ceramic cylinders through which pass a continuous stream of urine. The electricity is collected by an energy harvesting board.

Oxfam hopes to have the first toilet sent out to a refugee camp within the next six months. After that, it will be tested in a wide range of environments.

Says Andy Bastable, head of water and sanitation at Oxfam, “This urine bio-fuel cell technology could be used for many things, such as charging mobile phones. It could be used in any poor community that doesn’t have electricity at night.”

Category: Winter 2015

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