Scientists from a Belgian university have built a solar-powered machine that can turn urine into drinkable water. They deployed it at a 10-day music and theater festival in central Ghent, Belgium. The experiment was a success as the scientists were able to recover a 1,000 litres of unconsumed water, which will be used to make Belgian beer, from the urine of several partygoers.
They’re able to pull this off through membrane distillation that gets rid of 95 percent of all ammonia present in urine. The liquid is collected in a big tank and is heated in a solar-powered boiler. The heated urine then passes through the membrane which separates out the water as well as nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, which can be used to make fertilizers.
The current goal is to install larger versions of these machines in airports and sports venues. The scientists also want to help out rural communities in the developing world where drinkable water is in short supply.