Here are two practical ideas implemented in one human waste processing system:
Researchers have developed a system which can generate electricity from urine — enough to charge a mobile phone — and also kill bacteria harmful to humans, an advance that could be harnessed to treat wastewater.
In this process, wastewater flows through a series of cells filled with electroactive microbes that attack and destroy pathogens.
The researchers believe that the microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology could one day be used in developing countries in areas lacking sanitation or installed in homes to help clean waste before it flows into the municipal sewerage network, thereby reducing the burden on water companies to treat effluent.
… Not only can it create electricity but a major scientific breakthrough means that it can also kill pathogens.
Researchers at the University of the West of England have created a revolutionary new urinal system that can not only generate renewable electricity but can also kill bacteria harmful to humans.
The team created a special process where wastewater flowed through a series of cells filled with electroactive microbes, upon which the microbes were able to kill a pathogen, in this case the potentially deadly Salmonella.
The hope is that once perfected the system can be used to create a urinal for the Developing World which can not only generate electricity but clean the waste water before it enters the municipal sewage system – thus reducing the strain on the water companies themselves.
It had already been shown that microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology could use urine to generate electricity and clean water, but in order for the system to be viable in the Developing World the team felt they needed to go further.
This is believed to be the first time that pathogens have been destroyed using this method.
John Greenman, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology, said: “The wonderful outcome in this study was that tests showed a reduction in the number of pathogens beyond the minimum expectations in the sanitation world.”
The foundations work has not only focused on how electricity can be generated in the Developing World but also how to create clean water.
The team’s prototypes will once again be making an appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2017 where the electricity generated will be used to power many of the large signs dotted around the site.
I hope this idea and others like it will one day create enough energy to turn back the clock on our environmental issues.