Belgian Scientists Taking Water from “Sewer to Brewer”

With today’s technology, scientists across the globe are always discovering new ways to treat wastewater for more uses. Scientists at Ghent University have created a unique machine that uses solar energy to convert urine into drinkable water and fertilizer. The scientists hope this technology can be applied in developing countries.

The technology itself is quite simple. Urine is collected in a large tank and heated using a solar powered boiler. Then, the heated urine passes through a membrane that separates the water from its nutrients. Nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus can all be used to make fertilizer. The clean water can be collected for use. This technology could be extremely useful in rural and underdeveloped areas.

Scientists recently tested out this machine at a 10-day music festival. They got people involved by using the hashtag #PeeForScience. At the festival, the scientists were able to recover over 1000 liters of water from the festival goers. They plan to use that water and convert it into beer, a Belgian specialty. By converting the festival water into beer, the scientists are able to “give back.” First the people drank beer, then they peed at the festival, the water was collected, and now it is being converted back into beer. This machine essentially creates a “circle of life.”

Although people are often skeptical of wastewater treatments, this technology could be extremely useful for the less fortunate parts of the world. Innovative devices such as this one impact the world in such a positive way that it may spur other people to try and do the same.

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