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Marvel of toilet technology to turn pee into power at Glastonbury

The Pee Power urinal that turns pee into electricity - designed by researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) - is taking centre stage in the Stone Circle at Glastonbury Festival for the second year running.

The team of researchers from UWE Bristol, and workers from Oxfam and Dunster House shelter manufacturers, are using the festival as a field trial in advance of planned trials in Africa and India later this year.

The specially adapted urinal first appeared at Glastonbury last year, following its launch at the UWE Bristol student union in March 2015, but this time the team has created a unit twice as big and capable of accommodating up to 25 people at once.

The toilet will contribute to the facilities needed on site but the real purpose behind taking the unit to Glastonbury is to excite and inform the audience about a technology in its relative infancy that has the potential to change the lives of those living in countries where sanitation and electricity are off grid.

The unit is powered by urine fed through microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate enough electricity to light up the inside of the urinal.

Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, at UWE Bristol, said: “The festival presents us with the opportunity to trial the technology, along the lines of its robustness and cleaning capability, in terms of the sheer numbers of people and therefore the amount of urine.

“The urinal at the festival this year is going to be built to the size we plan to use for refugee camps. We have also developed the microbial fuel cell unit so that it is much smaller and yet delivering the pee power with more power.”

According to the urinals makers, lighting is a commodity sorely needed in refugee camps and slums worldwide, and providing light will improve quality of life and women’s safety at night.

The technology also has the ability to charge mobile phones, which can be particularly beneficial in refugee camps where families get split up.

Dunster House has designed and manufactured a bigger superstructure with two additional privacy panels, which is based around the Dunster House humanitarian range.

UWE Bristol researchers and student ambassadors will be on hand during the festival to help explain how the Pee Power Unit works.