Scientists Discover A Way To Turn Human Urine Into Bricks

Monday, 29 October 2018 - 1:58PM
Weird Science
Technology
Monday, 29 October 2018 - 1:58PM
Scientists Discover A Way To Turn Human Urine Into Bricks
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The past few years have seen some big scientific advances when it comes to urine, especially when it comes to power: a research team at the University of Bath created microbial fuel cells that can run on human urine, and the US Army recently discovered that an aluminum-based nano-powder can do something similar. Now, a research engineer named Dyllon Randall from the University of Cape Town has taken a step further: he's devised a process that can turn human urine into construction-capable bricks.

Before you get grossed out, the bricks aren't shiny, golden blocks – they're mostly sand, similar to concrete. The urine is only used as the basis for urease, an enzyme produced by a bacteria living in the sand that binds all of the loose grains together into a solid brick. The process takes four to six days and can be performed at room temperature. This means the bricks don't need an extremely hot, carbon-emitting kiln, which are traditionally used to bake bricks. Eliminating the kiln from the picture means these "bio-bricks" are sustainable and environmentally friendly.



The urine is collected from specially-designed urinals, which don't use water. According to the study, the urine can be stored for long periods of time without losing its usefulness, and can even generate a profit of $85 per day. (The things you learn...)

Interestingly, Randall isn't using the majority of the urine he collects to make bricks – instead, most of it is converted into fertilizer. On average, he was able to convert 1 kilogram of urine into 11.23 grams of fertilizer, which can be used to boost local farming. The leftover urine is used to make the bio-bricks. Unfortunately, this means that it would take roughly 100 trips to the bathroom to create a single brick. Still, we'd trust a bio-brick more than a space tool 3D-printed from our urine.
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