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India and Nepal next for Cypriot scientist’s ‘Pee Power’

First it was Glastonbury festival in the UK, then Uganda, now India and Nepal might be the next steps for Pee Power project, which uses urine to generate power.

The innovative technology was developed by the team of UK-based Cypriot scientist Yiannis Ieropoulos, head of the Bristol BioEnergy Center (BBiC) in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).  So far Pee Power has been shown to be capable of powering lights and charging mobile phones.

Pee Power recently travelled to Uganda where scientists from BbiC, with the assistance and great enthusiasm of the local staff, students and workers, installed toilets which are lit with the use of power supplied by urine. The toilets were installed at Sesame Girls School in the small village of Kisoro. Microbial fuel cells (MFC) were installed in a separate room and the human urine feeds the cells in order to generate power.

This power is sufficient for the lighting of the exterior of the building and the path that leads the students to the toilets. Each toilet cabinet now features motion sensors that turn on when needed.
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More recently, two scientists from Dr Ieropoulos’ team travelled to India and Nepal to assess the situation on the ground and collect facts and data for these Asian countries in order to ensure that Pee Power will potentially be another success there as well.

‘’We will be able to give more information about these two missions soon’’, Dr Ieropoulos told Cyprus News Agency (CNA). He was extremely happy and pleased that the project in distant Uganda, a country with a population of over 4 million, was implemented and started with success.

Before taking the technology to Uganda, the Pee Power was featured at Glastonbury Festival last July. The project was introduced there two years ago.

This year, Ieropoulos’ team showed two units – one by the «Cider bus” close to the Pyramid Stage that could accommodate up to 40 people at any given time.

The second unit was located at the area known as the “Inter stage” near the press enclave and performers’ area.

We can only imagine the feelings of Dr Ieropoulos and his team following the successful installations at both Glastonbury and Uganda. The innovative technology was applied outside the lab and delivered good results.

“It is a big step towards achieving our goals, this was the principle of implementing the project in real-world conditions, outside the laboratory. The feelings are of course those of satisfaction but with a grounded view of reality, when considering the poverty that fellow human beings live in’’, he told CNA.

Was Glastonbury a milestone for Pee Power, we ask Dr Ieropoulos.

‘’The implementation at Glastonbury helped us to a great extent because we had the chance to test this technology in real conditions despite the fact that it was for a short period of time, for as long as the Festival is taking place. The festival is very close to Bristol and this is extremely convenient especially when we need to make changes or adjust something. So, yes, I would say that trialing at the Festival prepared us for any unforeseen eventualities we might have been faced within Uganda,» he says.

How important is longevity for this project, was our next question. What exactly does that mean? Applying larger cells to produce more energy or does it mean the implementation of the project in other countries, not just Africa?

“Undoubtedly yes, since the interest of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who are our sponsors, is focused on countries of the Developing World’’, he explains.

In these developing countries, Dr Ieropoulos tells CNA, there are great difficulties and therefore one cannot predict if the project will work. So is there a so-called plan B, we ask.

“This is a very good question because we really cannot know the infrastructure in these countries, what kind of system there might be and how viable the installation will be in a remote area. This is the main reason we usually have a fact finding mission or missions to assess the situation and conditions on the ground before we commit’’, he says.

He explains that due to unexpected conditions and facts, a mission might not always be successful and might not always guarantee that the project will be installed there. This is the reason, he tells CNA, that in every country we aim at visiting as many areas as possible, including refugee camps, villages and schools.

“We are grateful to our sponsors who support us and we work responsibly so that this technology will benefit as many people as possible in poor countries of the world’’, he says. (CNA)

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