A team of scientists from Belgium build a machine that turns urine into drinkable water and fertilizer using solar energy, a technique which could be applied in rural areas and developing countries. Liane Wimhurst.
It's a fairly unorthodox experiment One researcher urinates, the other drinks the outcome But these Belgian scientists have invented a machine that turns urine into water (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIVERSITY OF GHENT RESEARCHER, SEBASTIAAN DERESE, SAYING: "We are able to recover urine, or recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine, just in a simple process without having to use very hi-tech technology, just using solar energy. So being very energy efficient, as well as recovering the full energy, well, full water and fertilizer potential of urine basically." There are other ways to treat waste water, But this machine doesn't require electricity, so can be used off the grid The urine is collected in a big tank, heated in a solar-powered boiler and passed through a membrane (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIVERSITY OF GHENT RESEARCHER, SEBASTIAAN DERESE, SAYING: "We are planning on brewing a beer from it, so there is a project here in Ghent, which is called 'sewer to brewer'. And they are making a beer and the first version was a version where we recovered waste water from the brewery itself and re-used to produce a new beer. And the second version was a version where we used some municipal waste water, and now the third version will be to produce beer from urine water, basically." Beyond converting urine into the nation's favourite drink, the machine could serve a purpose beyond Belgium's borders The University of Ghent team says they plan to take it to rural communities in the developing world where water and fertilizer are in short supply.