The BioEnergy team at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in south-west England is taking the piss – literally – to generate electricity.
Their prototype urinal is conveniently situated near a university bar; it collects people’s pee, which fuels microbial fuel cells that then generate electricity.
The team’s work hit the headlines in 2013 when they showed how pee could be used to power a mobile phone.
Oxfam now wants to take the technology out into its refugee camps.
“It’s quite fascinating and it’s very fulfilling to be involved in such valuable research,” said Professor Ioannis Ieropolous, director of the BioEnergy Centre at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
“The main objective of our work — if I can speak from a personal perspective — is the fact we are developing something which is for the better of humankind and that’s the whole purpose of our science.” ::::
Across the globe there are more than 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation. To try to address this the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded research out of which “urine-tricity” was born.
Oxfam hopes to harness this power of pee, to light toilet cubicles in refugee camps. The cubicles are often dark and dangerous places for women, according to Oxfam’s team leader of humanitarian coordinators, Richard Simpson.
He said many female refugees become victims of opportunistic crime in them.
“They can be dangerous places, so to have lighting around them is very, very important,” Mr Simpson said. “Sometimes we have to rely on power generators to keep the lights going when we set them up; sometimes we have solar panels, sometimes it’s difficult to get some of these items. So to actually have a technology that utilises what people carry with them, and need to get rid of, is a really good idea.”
Oxfam is hoping to trial a prototype at one of its refugee camps in the next six months.
“This one’s pretty exciting because you’re using the natural waste that people create and everybody is going to have to go to the toilet,” Mr Simpson said. “One of the other things too is we try to work with children and change children’s behavioural patterns and the fact they may be able to generate a light by going to the toilet is something that will encourage them to go to the toilet as well.”
Free, abundant urine-tricity an attractive prospect for aid agencies. Professor Ieropolous explained the microbial fuel cells contain live microbes which feed on urine to grow. The fuel cells tap into this biochemical energy and convert it into electricity.
He said the technology is about as green as it gets.
One microbial fuel cell costs about $2 so a small unit would cost around $2,000 to set up. Considering this, and the fact urine is free and abundant, urine-tricity is an attractive prospect for aid agencies.
Oxfam’s Richard Simpson said it was a good concept because local partners who take over in the camps would not have to spend as much money on maintenance.
He added that sadly, given the ever increasing number of humanitarian crises around the world, there will be more and more refugee camps to build and run.
“This is one of the worst periods since the Second World War with regard to humanitarian crisis so we’ve got a pretty broad area… all the more need to look at different types of innovative ideas because of the stretch on resources that we have at the moment.”
UNRELATED! Seymour Explains THAT KISS!?
Once and for all, Stephanie Seymour and her 18-year-old son, Peter Brant II, were not really engaged in a steamy lip-locking embrace. It was just role play. Yes. This whole thing just got a lot weirder.
The 42-year-old model, who was snapped in January by sneaky photogs on a St. Bart’s beach dressed in a bikini while strolling and kissing her eldest kid in what looked like a passionate clench, had dismissed the crazy talk about their affection on Oprah.
Likewise, her son took to Facebook right afterwards to say they had “nothing to hide” and that not only is he not dating his mother, he wouldn’t because he is openly gay :: Read the full article »»»»
UPDATED! Chile Hit by 8.2 Magnitude Earthquake
The earthquake hit this morning at a depth of just 10 kilometres and was centred 86 kilometres north-west of Iquique in northern Chile.
Interior minister Rodrigo Penalillo says the victims were four men and a woman who died in the cities of Iquique and Alto Hospicio, either of a heart attack or after being crushed by debris.
The first waves struck Chile’s northern coast within 45 minutes of the quake, with roads left gridlocked as Chileans abandoned their coastal homes for higher ground.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says the wave has been measured at 2.11 metres at its highest off Iquique.
UPDATE! A tsunami warning that had been in place for regions including Chile and Peru has now been cancelled, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says there is no tsunami danger for Australia or New Zealand. Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has declared parts of northern Chile to be disaster zones
UPDATE! March 3, 2014: A magnitude 7.8 aftershock has struck off northern Chile, just a day after amassive earthquake struck the region, the US Geological Survey – USGS – says. The navy declared a tsunami alert after the most recent quake, which was initially reported as being of magnitude 7.4 :: Read the full article »»»»
REBLOG! Australian Politics Becoming a Topless Joke?
In this latest round of political campaigning – Senate seats for Western Australia – The Australian Sports Party has posted a joke on it’s Facebook page that has many wondering what direction – if any – the party intends to canvas punters on.
Australia has a rich history of political cranks, our last election, 2013, witnessed a cacoffiny of crazy, odd-ball candidates.
From Clive Palmer’s paranoia – the billionaire turned politician still reckons lefty Greens are funded by the CIA – to the dope (hemp if you must) party, This latest election – a senate only re-run due to bungling by the Electoral Commission – will surely see politics over-run by mental micro opinion?
The big question has to be ‘has Australian politics become, well, too Aussie?’ As minor, micro parties busily stitch together preferences, swapping deals in the hope of riding an unpredictable wave into the Australian Federal Parliament, the marriages are likely to be idiosyncratic matches, The Hemp, Sports and Sustainable Pollution Parties have little in common but are likely to swap preference in order to gain seats.
The Australian Sports Party -ASP – should apologise for the above Facebook photo, a prominent women’s rights group says. The picture is accompanied by an anecdote about the woman, described as “voluptuous” and a “babe”, who is running with a sign around her neck saying, “If you catch me, you can have me” :: Read the full article »»»»
In Australia the war on obesity is heating up, three major health organisations want a sugar tax on all sweetened beverages – not just soft drinks, but products like flavoured milk and sports drinks – to limit consumption and curb what is shaping up to be the nations biggest health problem.
However, Australia’s Food and Grocery Council – the body representing the food and beverage industry – is hitting back against health campaigns aimed at reducing sugar consumption, prompting critics to compare the industry’s position to that of tobacco companies fight against smoking decades ago.
In the UK a similar campaign ‘Action on Sugar’ has just launched, in the hope of reversing the obesity epidemic by targeting the “huge and unnecessary amounts of sugar that are currently being added to our food and soft drinks”. The campaign’s expert advisors include heavyweights from the scientific and medical community.
Last month leaked draft guidelines from the World Health Organisation – WHO – suggested the organisation is considering halving the recommended daily intake of sugar from ten teaspoons to five. WHO’s “global strategy on diet” also says an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic disease and recommends reducing sugar intake to help prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes and dental problems :: Read the full article »»»»
REBLOG! Dr Maryanne Demasi’s Playing With My Heart, Again…
As previously mentioned, I’m not a huge television watcher, discerning nut no couch-potato, one show I must see each and every week – or I seriously get the grumps – is Catalyst.
For those not-in-the-know, Catalyst is a superlative Australian science program aired weekly on ABC TV, it’s always current, often a lark and most beautifully produced.
My favourite science reporter is back with another superlative question, “Is the role of cholesterol in heart disease really one of the biggest myths in the history of medicine?”
The answer is surprising. In this must see episode of Catalyst, Dr Demasi and team track down some surprising insights. The science show has come under considerable fire from sections of the medical community for it’s latest two-part special.
Catalyst described the claim that saturated fats and cholesterol causes heart attacks as one of the biggest myths of medical history. Professor Emily Banks, the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines, raised concerns over the program prompting people not to take necessary medicines.
Ms Demasi, a Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Research, says as a broadcaster she has a responsibility to inform the public that people may be using the drugs unnecessarily. Ms Demasi (we should be calling her Dr, but Ms sounds so neat) said via Catalyst’s Facebook page that she moved from medical science to journalism to encourage critical thinking about people’s health :: Read the full article »»»»
CHRONIC FAT: Do Fat Chicks Have More Fun?
Admission! This post was inspired by a FAT CHICK –a self confessed – apparently happy FAT CHICK!Chrissie Swan, ex-The Circle, and regular contributor to Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, penned a piece for the afore mentioned newspaper that has me ever so slightly incensed.
The Age’s Sunday Life – Life Matters – is all fluff, it’s meant to lighten up our Sunday read, feel good articles that mix well with coffee, bagels and balmy afternoons. What’s so standout about Ms Swan’s piece is that a half dozen people have so far had a good grizzle about what a trollish, trashy tale this happy fat chick has penned.
Clearly gnawing on fat isn’t a light hearted ramble.
“I’m overweight and happy” Chrissie Swan said “It hasn’t always been this way, I mean, I’ve always been happy, but I’ve lived with the dream of a goal weight hanging in front of me like a carrot (cake) since I was about 11 years old”
Shock Horror, it’s a hard concept to grasp, someone happy being a fatty!?
No one wants to be fat, it’s a myth, no one wants to feel unwanted or worse wanted for being a complete oddity. Being over weight is a complicated place to be. Losing weight is a massive chore,trust me inside this average body lurks a fat person trying to get out. Keeping that fat chick in check is a daily struggle. Emotions, Hormones, Food and even Genes all seem to be against us staying thin :: Read the full article »»»»