Pee is for power: Your electrifying excretions

Why let your waste go to waste when it could be powering your – or even your car?

IT IS a bright spring morning here at in , UK, where I have come to meet my interviewee for this article, Shanwen Tao. Normally when I interview someone, I give them a business card and maybe the latest issue of . Today, I give Tao a bottle of my own pee.

Chemist Tao doesn’t find this odd. , he believes, could help solve the world’s energy problems, powering farms and even buildings. And he has agreed to use my offering to show me how.

Urine might not pack the punch of rocket fuel, but what it lacks in it makes up for in sheer quantity. It is one of the most abundant waste materials on Earth, with nearly 7 billion people producing roughly 10 billion litres of it every day. Add animals into the mix and this quantity is multiplied several times over.

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