From sewer to brewer: making Belgian beer out of urine

The next time you say a pint of pale ale tastes like warm piss, you may be closer to the truth than expected. Researchers at the University of Ghent have brought a whole new layer of meaning to the term “craft beer” by brewing alcohol with water extracted from human urine.

From sewer to brewer: making Belgian beer out of urine

According to Reuters, the Belgian scientists have created a solar-powered machine that uses a special membrane to separate urine into drinkable water and fertiliser. 

The technique, which could bring clean water to developing countries, was tested at a music festival in Ghent. Over a ten-day period, the team of researchers collected enough samples to recover 1,000 litres of water. The plan is now for that water to be used to make Belgian beer.

“We call it from sewer to brewer,” Sebastiaan Derese, a researcher from the University of Ghent, told Reuters. “We’re able to recover fertiliser and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy.”

The process works by heating the urine in a solar-powered boiler. As the water evaporates, it passes through a membrane, separating it from nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. The remnants can then be used to make fertiliser for agricultural purposes.  

The researchers intend to install larger iterations of the machine at bigger venues, such as sports venues and airports, as well as bringing them to rural communities in parts of the globe where clean water and cheap fertilisers are needed.

The Belgian scientists aren’t the first to make beer from waste. Last year the Californian brewer Half Moon Bay Brewing Company unveiled a version of its Mavericks Tunnel Vision IPA made with recycled water from sinks and showers. 

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