But don’t worry. It’s not nearly as icky as you’re imagining right now. A team of scientists at the University of Ghent came up with the machine, which turns urine into drinkable water and fertilizer via solar energy. That’s good news for rural areas and developing countries lacking reliable sources of drinking water and fertilizer.
Wastewater treatment is nothing new, of course, but this process, which Derese says is “simple,” is somewhat different: after urine is collected in a tank, it’s heated in a solar-powered boiler and then passed through a special, energy-efficient, off-the-grid-accessible membrane that filters out nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
Here’s where the pee beer comes in — as a promotional tool for the new device, the team recently demonstrated the machine at a 10-day music and theater festival in Ghent, urging festivalgoers to #peeforscience. And pee for science they did: the team recovered 1,000 liters of water from all the urine they collected. Now, the plan is to turn it into that ubiquitous Belgian specialty: beer.
Is pee beer the future of brewing? Maybe not, but if it is, it’s not the end of the world. Because, reduce, reuse, recycle, y’all. Pee included.