The 40-person Pee Power urinal has been powering lights and charging mobile phones at Worthy Farm for the past two years. And at the 2017 event, which starts tomorrow (21 June), the technology will power up displays giving information and festival updates.

The project was designed by scientists at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre (BBiC) at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

BBiC director Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos said: “The Pee Power at Glastonbury project is the result of our close collaboration with our partners Oxfam and Dunster House and our collective effort to improve lives in refugee camps and areas of the world with no sanitation or electricity.

“This fits well with the charities and organisations that have traditionally received support from the Glastonbury Festival over the years.”


Making a splash

Pee Power works via stacks of microbial fuel cells that use urine as a fuel for direct electricity generation when live bacteria consumes urine for their growth and maintenance. The microbial fuel cell technology taps a portion of that biochemical energy used for microbial growth, and converts it directly into electricity.

Pee Power has been given a prime location just a few hundred metres from the Pyramid stage. It is anticipated that at peak times there will be more than 1,000 litres of urine per day flowing through the microbial fuel cells generating enough Pee Power to charge ten information panels.

Professor Ieropoulos said: “This unit is primarily about public engagement and Glastonbury Festival gives us the chance to showcase our technology to potentially thousands of people. The festival updates are one way of showing that Pee Power and the microbial fuel cell technology can be developed for a whole range of uses.”

Later this year the Pee Power urinals, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be taken to Uganda for the first ever overseas trial. The technology is just one of a number of sustainable features at Glastonbury. Last year’s event included mini gyms that create their own energy and solar arrays that powered David Attenborough documentaries.

George Ogleby

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