The Emergency Pissoir has been designed for multiple users, whether in urban or rural locations, offering men the chance to retain their dignity whilst using the urinal. This pissoir uses the urine to generate electricity and is designed to be lightweight, easily transported and low maintenance.
This ambitious project is the result of a collective effort between Dunster House, UWE Bristol and Oxfam to improve lives in refugee camps and areas with no sanitation or electricity.
The Pee Power project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, works via stacks of microbial fuel cells that use urine as a fuel for direct electricity generation when live bacteria consume urine for their growth and maintenance.
Dunster House joined this project back in 2014, and since then we have been providing our expertise, design knowledge and resources in manufacturing the structures used in the project. However, the history of the Pee Power Urinal started earlier, with a PhD research at the University of the West of England 17 years ago.
This technology is known as Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) and can, not only generate electricity, but also improve sanitation.
Since 2015 we have been taking our Pee Power Urinal to the Glastonbury Festival for field testing. For three consecutive festival, thousands of people used the structure with incredible results.
This led to the biggest PEE POWER urinal ever built on the 2017 edition. After years of collaboration with Oxfam and scientists from the Bristol Bioenergy Centre (BBiC), Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of West of England (UWE Bristol), a major step was taken by setting up a structure ready to accommodate up to 40 people at the same time.
This latest model had, for the first time, the energy capacity to power up display screens with information and updates. Utilising the urine to produce also electricity enough to power phones and turn on lights.
At peak times of the 2017 edition of the Glastonbury Festival over 1,000 litres of urine were flowing everyday through the microbial fuel cells of the main pissoir, generating enough PEE POWER to charge ten information panels. A second unit was located at the inter stage area, close to the press enclave and performers.
After the Festival decided to take a break in 2018, we worked hard on the design for the 2019 Glastonbury edition which was another fabulous experience for our team. Little did we know we would have to wait until 2022 (hopefully!) to show off our latest design to the newest set of festival goers.
Despite not being able to continue the research on our trips to Glastonbury in recent years, the knowledge gained from our earlier field research at the festivals has allowed our partners at the University of West of England (UWE Bristol) to get the Pee Power structures to Uganda and Kenya for their first ever overseas trials.
The project, which keeps evolving day by day is expected to improve lives in areas of the world with no sanitation or electricity, providing light without relying on fossil fuels.