From Sewer to Brewer: Scientists Debut Beer Made Out of Recycled Pee

Tina Rivera
(Photo: Shutterstock)

While some people avoid drinking beer for the simple fact that it makes you pee every three seconds, scientists in Belgium have found a way to recycle your excess urine and transform it into something a little more drinkable—beer!

Coming full circle, pee from public restrooms will no longer go to waste as researchers from the University of Ghent have developed a machine that turns urine into potable water using solar energy. According to Reuters, “the urine is collected in a big tank, heated in a solar-powered boiler before passing through the membrane where the water is recovered and nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus are separated.”  

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Primarily created to provide clean water for third world countries and rural areas, the team at the Belgian university lent a machine to a 10-day music and theater festival in Ghent where 1,000 liters of urine water were recovered. As a special case, the recycled pee water will be used to create a Belgian craft beer. "We call it from sewer to brewer," said researcher Dr. Sebastiaan Derese.

Back in March, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company also created a craft beer using wastewater from the sinks, showers and washing machines of California residents during a time of severe drought. Featured at a competition, people who tried the wastewater beer during a blind test said the brew "tasted great.”  

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Scientists are hopeful that larger versions of the machine will be used in high traffic areas such as sports venues and airports in addition to developing communities where clean drinking water is hard to come by. While other wastewater treatments already exist, Derese claims their solar-powered system is the most energy-efficient. “We're able to recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy,” Derese said. 

While recycled wastewater and beer may not appeal to the masses, it might be worth a try—at least once? 

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