Scientists at Belgium’s University of Ghent say they’ve created a machine that turns urine into potable water, and fertilizer, using solar energy. The scientists have since crafted small batches of Belgian ale from the recycled water.
“We call it from sewer to brewer,” Sebastiaan Derese, one of the researchers from the University of Ghent, told Reuters. “We’re able to recover fertiliser and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy.”
The machine collects urine in a big tank which is then heated in a solar-powered boiler. As the heated water evaporates it passes through a membrane, which separates the H2O from nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen. Those nutrients can then be used to enrich fertilizers for plants.The water is then diverted to a separate tank.
Since the system requires no electricity, the researchers hope it can be used to provide clean drinking water for people in developing countries.
According to Derese, the process could help organize agriculture in a more sustainable way throughout many rural communities more susceptible to drought.
But the system can also be used for commercial purposes to quickly purify water where there are a lot of people—who have to go to the bathroom a lot—like sports stadiums, shopping malls and airports.
Scientists recently presented the machine at a 10-day music and theatre festival in central Ghent, using the slogan #peeforscience, according to the New York Daily News.
The team recycled 1,000 liters of water from urine collected at the event. Now the scientists plan to use that water to brew even more of their signature “Brewer to Sewer” beer.
So the next time you take a swig of beer and think to yourself, “this tastes like warm p—,” you might just be providing an accurate flavor profile.
In March, California’s Half Moon Bay Brewing Company began making small batches of its popular Mavericks Tunnel Vision IPA with recycled waste water—known to environmentalists as gray water (any used water not from toilets) as apartial solution to the state’s drought problem.