Scientists from the University of Ghent have developed a unique concept that allows them to convert human urine into pure water – and the technique is even being used to make eco beer.
The method is based on a water purification process that is being tested for the first time on a large scale at the Ghent Festival in Belgium. The sustainable installation is powered by solar energy, making it ideal for festivals in the summer struggling with the logistical problem of disposing of urine, the researchers said.
As well as converting urine into pure water, the process also retrieves useful fertilisers, which are present in the wastewater. This could allow the innovative process to make a difference in developing countries, where local farmers often have little access to commercial fertilisers, the University of Ghent said. Regaining fertiliser from their own urine could solve this problem, and facilitate a more sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural system.
The purified water has been converted into a new beer – aptly titled From Sewer to Brewer – that follows in the footsteps of a previous brew that was based on recycled wastewater from the Ghent-based brewery De Wilde Brewers.
The second iteration of the beer is purified using membrane filtration, resulting in “a delicious blond high-fermentation beer” that is being served in one of the city’s public squares.
The scientists have collected 1,000 litres of urine for the process, which is the result of two and a half years of development.
But it’s possibly not the foulest way of making beer: last year, FoodBev reported on the water treatment company in the US that asked local authorities to approve a scheme that would see it make beer using treated sewage.
The company had used a process involving ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis and enhanced oxidation to filter the water, remove the chemicals contained within it and break down contaminants. Having transformed the waste into drinkable water, it wanted to donate the recycled water to a home brewing club, but first needed to obtain state permission.
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