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Urine Stones: Human waste is used to create sustainable building blocks



O All the ambitious ideas that could free us from the wrath of the changing climate, to turn human urine into liquid gold, seem to take a long time to come. But according to scientists in South Africa, it turns out that the omnipresent liquid contains an important ingredient that could help us in many ways – including, curiously, a way to rebuild our cities once the coastal communities are swamped by rising tides Team from the University of Cape Town, that human urine can be transformed into solid, brick-like forms that they call "bioblocks". In contrast to normal kiln tiles, biofire bricks do not require high heat. Their production does not spit out thousands of kilograms of greenhouse gases from carbon dioxide.

Dyllon Randall, Doctor of Water Quality Engineering, discovered the potential of urine after he began placing makeshift urinals around the university to produce fertilizer. The urinals contain builder lime, which reacts with the phosphorus in the urine to fertilizer.

But even after the fertilizer was harvested, Randall soon realized that there was still some liquid left over. This, to use his words, was his "liquid gold".

  Biobricks
Bricks can be formed into any shape

The remains contained an important compound called urea, which naturally occurs in human urine. Randall discovered that the urea solution could be used to make a tile by mixing it with loose sand that was colonized by bacterial species that produce the enzyme urease.

The urease secreted by the bacteria decomposes the urea and as a bonus it produces the compound calcium carbonate. This hard white compound, which forms most of the egg shells and shells, solidifies the sand particles in the bricks.

The more time bacteria are given to unfold their magic, the brighter the bricks grow, the team says, suggesting that this method could produce different types of building materials.

"No one has considered it in terms of the entire cycle and the potential to gain multiple valuable products, but the next question is how to do it in an optimized way so that profit can be made from urine "Randall said.

This process, known as microbial carbonate precipitation, is not exactly new. Previous research has shown that there are many microorganisms that can perform the process. What appears new here is that the team has finally found a use for a fluid that exists in limitless care. This is fortunate because BBC estimates that it would take about 100 trips to the bathroom to make one of these stones.

  Urine Bioblocks
Randall's DIY urinal collects the urine needed to create bio-blocks

The urine candles do not require any burning processes, but the team has to massively accelerate their process before leaving can represent a real alternative. At the moment it takes between two and six days to grow depending on the desired strength, and the team still has to try to actually build with them.

But for now Randall is overwhelmed by the reception of his product.

I am grateful for the openness of people and the acceptance of such novel technologies, "said Randall in a video interview." Who would have thought to reclaim fertilizer from urine or make bioblocks with the same urine? This type of interest gives me much hope for the future in terms of achieving a sustainable future and environment. "

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