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10 Urine and the Arts Cupids, Ganymede, and more 16 drinkpeedrinkpeedrinkpee Being Sentient Ecosystems 16 Nano Urine Fueling Microbial Fuel Cells

urinated The Past, Present and Future of Urine

A Timely Moment to Talk about Urine Who would have imagined that I would end up spending so much time editing a magazine all about urine. Definitely not me. And it’s not because I think piss is gross. It’s because I don’t find it to be something interesting, something worth spending my time on. That is, before I started this project on urine. Before this project urine was something that I didn’t give a second thought about, even though it was so ‘close’ me all my life. Now that has completely changed. And this magazine is about sharing that change with others as well. Of how urine changed from something to simply get rid of into something that interesting valuable The value of piss. An article in The Guardian by Sarah DeWeerdt tells of how “Gerardine Botte, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio University... has developed a technology to generate hydrogen fuel from urine”. Once I started to research about urine it didn’t take too long for me to realize that urine has, in fact, had an impressive range of practical uses throughout history. A key area was medicine, for example. In Rome, Pliny the Elder recommended fresh urine for the treatment of “sores, burns, affections of the anus, chaps and scorpion stings”, while stale urine mixed with ash could be rubbed on your baby for nappy rash. In early-modern Europe numerous medical luminaries went further. Pioneering French surgeon Ambroise Paré noted that itching eye-lids could be washed in the patient’s urine – provided that it had been kept “all night in a barber’s basin” first. The father of chemistry, Robert Boyle, advised certain patients to drink every morning “a moderate draught of their own urine”, preferably while “tis yet warm”. Anyone indignantly demanding a second opinion would find that Thomas Willis – the richest doctor in England at the time – was instructing a young gentlewoman to drink her own warm urine against “extreme sourness” in her throat. Other cases could be far more urgent. In about 1550 the Italian doctor Leonardo Fioravanti saw a man’s nose sliced off in an argument, and promptly urinated on the fallen organ before stitching it back on. Henry VIII’s surgeon Thomas Vicary recommended that all battle wounds should be washed in urine; and others advised the same for potentially gangrenous ulcers, or poisonous bites and stings. Being sterile when it leaves the body, urine was then a far safer cleaning agent than the kind of water typically available. In 1666 the physician George Thomson was recommending it against the plague; and over in France in 1671 the chemist Matte la Faveur was patiently collecting vast quantities of unadulterated child’s urine (“about sixty pints [from] little children who drink very little wine”) to make a volatile salt from it. Such advanced therapies were of course not for the humbler sort.

Boyle, who performed numerous experiments with human blood and urine – including using both as invisible inks – noted how the latter was highly valued by dyers; while the historian Dominique Laporte reminds us of its popularity for the cleaning of hats in France. Then we have cosmetics. The Elizabethan surgeon William Bullein advised those “whose faces be unclean” to wash their skin with “strong vinegar, milk and the urine of a boy”. In 1675 The Accomplish’d Lady’s Delight in Preserving, Physic, Beautifying, and Cookery told of how one’s own urine was “very good to wash the face withal, to make it fair”. Compare the northern Scottish author Mary Beith, who (writing in 1995) emphasises that, “today, urea remains an important ingredient in medicinal skin creams”, also recalling “babies having their faces wiped with their own wet nappies” by way of skin care: “a friend of mine with four boys made a virtual religion” of this, “and not one of those boys became a spotty teenager”. Cases of plague or serious wounds remind us of how historical context can radically alter one’s disgust threshold. Compare, too, those soldiers of the first world war who used cloth patches soaked in their own urine as rudimentary gas masks (the ammonia in the urine counteracting the chlorine in the gas). And the use goes on into the future as well. Those of us who live long enough may find that the urine-powered car is an essential piece of technology in the age of rising fuel costs and melting ice-caps. Perhaps one day drivers won’t stop to use the toilet, but use the toilet so that they don’t have to stop at all. Discovering and collecting all these fascinating stories about urine, and especially the potential of it being a valuable asset for mankind in the future, I realized most people, just like myself, were not aware of this outside the boundry of enthusiasts. This magazine is aimed at sharing this knowledge to trigger people, so that people can start to acknowledge urine as something valuable. Discussions with Brabant Water of Eindhoven revealed that although better technology to treat humas waste is out there, people aren’t convinced if it is worth the extra taxpayers money. And I believe one way to start to change this is awareness, to get people interested. Urinated covers the past, present and future of pee. The stories are from various sources, and written by various people. Some are fact, others fiction. But they are all definitely interesting stories, and here I presented it to you. I hope you enjoy it, and in the end helps you realize that piss is definitely worth more of our time than how long it takes to leaves our body and gets flushed down the drain.

Urinated A mashup magazine of the past, present and future of urine. The author, or the source of each stories is noted at the end of each story. The historical facts on urine presented in the editorial are from Richard Sugg, a lecturer in Renaissance literature at the University of Durham. The layout of the magazine is strongly inpsired by the magazines form and novem.

Minseong Wang Editor-in-chief, editor, publisher, designer and pretty much everything else. T: +31 6 81 81 44 77 E-mail: Sint Leonardusstraat 25, Eindhoven 5614 ED The Netherlands



urine ; from past to present

Liquid Gold Urine was once the number-one way to diagnose disease, and even predict the future

The science and art of uroscopy is not one most modern-day physicians would claim as an area of expertise. However, from ancient times through to the technique’s pinnacle of popularity in the Middle Ages and then even into the Victorian era, a patient’s urine was used to both diagnose and prognosticate. Though today urine is regarded as little more than waste, one’s water used to be considered a divine fluid, a window into the body and the soul. Physicians looked to it as the primary way to determine what was wrong with a patient, attributing variations in colours and smells to illnesses they may easily have selected at random. To be fair, religious restrictions and medical ignorance were huge hurdles to overcome, so healers were left with few effective ways to diagnose their patients’ conditions. Occasionally, miraculously, they were right. Urine could indeed reveal certain diseases, most notably diabetes, a diagnosis as difficult for the doctor as it was for the patient, since a taste of the yellow stuff was required.

Hippocrates (460-377 BC) was the original uroscopist, noticing that fever changes the way a patient’s urine smells. Old medical papyri point out that both excessive urination and blood in the urine were signs of illness. By the second century AD, people began to believe that all the body’s ails could be seen in its urine. Galen (131-201 AD), the Greco-Roman doctor whose influence lasted well over a millennium, believed that urine revealed the health of the liver, the organ where blood was supposedly produced. Evaluating the urine, Galen stated, was the best way to see whether or not the body’s four humours (blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile) were in balance. In ancient Rome, peering into the chamber pot fell not only within the domain of medical diagnosis, but soon became entertainment as well.



The art of uromancy - the study of urine for purposes of divination - appeared during this time. Like their medical counterparts, uromancers swirled, studied and even tasted people’s urine in the hopes of providing them with a peek into their future. By the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had emerged as the most powerful force in Europe. From the sixth century until the Renaissance, the Church limited physicians’ options considerably. With doctors prohibited from touching certain parts of patients or even seeing patients unclothed, bodily fluids that could be passed discretely from behind a screen soon became the sole method of diagnosis, especially for women. CHARTING THE UNKNOWN A very popular book on uroscopy was penned by the seventh-century Byzantine physician Theophilus. His On Urines was a detailed how-to on diagnosing through urine and was translated throughout Europe. About 300 years later, the influential Arab physician Isaac Judaeus developed a portable flow chart of humoural and urine assessment so complex that he claimed it could determine every disease known. The chart was a big hit; with more than 20 hues of pee to choose from, a doctor’s work was virtually done as soon as the sample was taken. During the Renaissance, renewed interest in the scientific, cultural and artistic successes of ancient civilizations took hold, spurring medical advances throughout Europe for the next 200 years. By this time, uroscopy was so deeply entrenched within the medical psyche that instead of being abandoned altogether, it enjoyed a contemporary retooling. Physicians and scientists were finally free to explore links between a patient’s urine, the new diseases and conditions being identified, and their findings from more complete physical examinations. Uroscopy blossomed into an art form. Since gazing into the murky depths of the chamber pot proved problematic, they developed the matula - a round-bottomed flask made out of clear glass whose shape approximated that of a bladder. The idea was that urine, free to spread out in a shape similar to that of its natural environment, would show its true colour. In fact, the doctor holding a urine-filled matula up to the light became an archetypical image of medicine and chemistry that persists to this day. The matula allowed the physician to identify those urine properties essential for a good diagnosis -- colour, clarity, thickness, sediment, odour, foam and that old favourite, taste.

THE COLOUR PURPLE Colour was perhaps the most crucial. In one famous case, the court physicians saw something amiss in the samples given by Britain’s “Mad” King George III (1738-1820), whose water was apparently a royal purple in colour. Red-purple or blue urine is a symptom of the rare metabolic disorder porphyria (though a recent theory suggests the eccentric king’s madness was actually fuelled by the arsenic he took as medicine, but that’s another story altogether). And then there was taste, also a very critical part of the analysis. One of the rare instances in which uroscopy was dead-on came in diagnosing diabetes by a sweet taste to the urine. In 1674, English physician Thomas Willis (1621-1675) was the first in modern medical literature to observe this relationship. He may have enjoyed the sampling process a little too much, stating that the pee on his palate was “wonderfully sweet as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.” His taste test led him to add the term “mellitus” to this form of diabetes, from the Latin word for honey. Ancient Arab, Hindu and Chinese texts also have anecdotal reports of the same sweet taste in urine from patients who displayed the symptoms of what was later termed diabetes. Urine, of course, was also used to determine pregnancy. One text dating from 1552 clearly explains how: if the woman’s urine was a “clear pale lemon colour leaning toward off-white, having a cloud on its surface,” then she must be pregnant. With that description, they likely would have found many men to be pregnant as well. Still, some doctors may have had more success when they added wine to the urine for diagnostic purposes. Since proteinurea is present in several pregnancy-induced conditions such as preeclampsia, and alcohol reacts visibly with protein in the urine, it may actually have worked. In an equally scientific attempt, urine was also used as a way to identify pure evil. As the witch hunts of Europe reached a fever pitch in the 16th and 17th centuries, self-proclaimed witch-hunters and appointed tribunals determined the guilt of countless “witches” based on whether or not the cork popped out of a bottle containing a combination of their urine and metal objects like pins and nails. PISS PROPHETS Urine-loving MDs enjoyed their heyday of popularity and respect during the 16th and early 17th centuries. It wasn’t until the scientific revolution and subsequent Enlightenment that true empiricism began to emerge in medicine. Once chemistry and, later, medical imaging, came to the forefront in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, useful chemical investigations into urine samples replaced the old swirl-andtaste methods. Soon, doctors were no longer using outdated forms of uroscopy and those who held onto them became known as piss prophets. It wasn’t long before they’d turned from healers to quacks in the public mind. But that didn’t stop a few stubborn sorts from hanging on to the dream of urine as liquid gold. The piss prophets took their business underground, catering to those too poor to afford real doctors and those for whom traditional medicine had failed. Eventually, uroscopy -- the science of studying urine -- fell by the wayside and uromancy -- the old scam of using urine for fortune-telling -- made a reappearance. Patients became clients, eager to have their futures revealed by those gifted visionaries who could see all through a simple sample. Every practitioner had his or her own way of predicting what lay in store for the client. Some simply held the flask up to the light and made up fantastical stories from there; others had people pee into pots and then “read the bubbles.” An even less palatable form of uromancy involved urinating in one’s own feces then having the bubbles read from there. As it happened, if your urine contained many bubbles, it meant you had a large sum of money coming your way. Of course, this was even better news for the uromancer, who could be sure of a nice big tip from the soon-to-be rich client. Today, those who concern themselves with the study of their patients’ urine are more often called urologists or nephrologists than piss prophets, and few retain the old habit of taste-testing or bubblegazing. But urinalysis still raises its fair share of controversy, for where would the modern world be without the infamous pee-test? A flaskful of pee has brought down everyone from lowly parolees to professional athletes. Whether taken for child custody, legal, insurance or employment purposes, the results of urine tests still have the power to change lives. Jackie Rosenhek from Doctor’s Review



urine ; the past

Urea, a 17th & 18th Century Spot Remover Or Pee as a Cleansing Agent. Urine for spot cleaning? Yes, you read the first word correctly.

Since the middle ages, professionals belonging to guilds manufactured soap and candles, for both products required tallow. They traditionally manufactured soaps from sodium or potassium salt or alkalis present in plant materials, and boiled the ingredients with animal fat. In the 19th century, it was discovered how to make caustic soda from brine. Soap makers no longer relied on cut wood to make soap and the cleaning industry was never the same again. Before innovations during the Industrial Revolution changed laundry day forever, it was generally known that alkaline substances, such as bleach or ash, dissolved or disintegrated stains and soils, enhancing the water’s ability to clean clothes. Urine is alkaline, and since the days of ancient Rome, this by-product of the human body was used as a bleaching agent. “Pecunia non olet: money does not stink”, Emperor Vespasian reportedly said when he started taxing this trade. Yes, urine stinks. But so do bleach and vinegar, a weak acid. The stinking ingredient that turns us off and that makes urine such a good cleaning agent – ammonia – is a substance that our modern cleaning products include in abundance. Eighteenth century English wool manufacturers used both urine and sheep or pig manure for washing. 6


In addition, urine also sets dye. For instance, the seller of a beautiful little handmade rug from Turkey cautioned that its vegetable dyes were set with goat urine. Twenty years after its purchase, the rug no longer smells, but its fragile colors must be vigilantly protected from direct sunlight. As recently as the early 20th century, urine was collected in barrels in Japan and fermented for use in laundering. The Japanese threw the contents of their slop jar into the barrel, then separated the feces from the liquid urine. The feces were used as fertilizer to enrich the soil, and the urine was collected by laundry shops, who fermented the liquid and used it as a bleaching agent by pounding it into the cloth. It is the fermentation process that probably made urine safe to handle, much like fermented beer or distilled alcohol were safe to drink in the days before sterilization. Vic from Jane Austen’s World

“Before that you suffer it to be washed, lay it all night in urine, the next day rub all the spots in the urine as if you were washing in water; then lay it in more urine another night and then rub it again, and so do till you find they be quite out.� Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, 1677



urine ; the past

Chemistry’s golden past

Paintings of alchemists show them holding up flasks. The contents of those flasks are almost always golden in color. That’s because alchemists were obsessed with urine.

And no wonder. The limits of science all through history are set by the limits of instruments. So despite having just five senses for test instruments, the alchemist could use urine to diagnose patients and make scientific discoveries. (He was often the local healer, dentist and bleeder.) At the time when alchemy was the leading edge of chemistry, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the alchemist could observe, sniff, touch and taste this vital fluid to look for clues to the ills his patient suffered. Arguably the greatest discovery made by an alchemist was from urine. Sometime around 8


1669, German alchemist Hennig Brandt distilled buckets of urine and then heated the paste that remained. In addition to creating a horrible smell, he isolated phosphorus. When the secret got out, Brandt’s neighbors certainly knew a lot about his research, alchemists across Europe began collecting urine from public loos in hopes of replicating his results. Alchemy hung on till the 19th century partly because Brandt found the route from piss to phosphorus.

to the right Trouble comes to the Alchemist, 17-18th century,17th century Netherlandish

Neil Gussman from Annals of Improbable Research.

bottom right Science, 17-18th century, by Gerard Thomas

top left The Alchemist, 17th century, by Mattheus van Helmont. top right The Medical Chemist, 18th century, by Franz Christoph Jannec bottom left The Iatrochemist, 17-18th century, by Balthasar van den Bossche



urine ; the past

Aztec Medicinal Prescriptions

The Aztecs had methods for treating ailments that were minimal in severity, as well as for ailments that were quite severe. And yes, for some recipes urine was the magic ingredient.

Tzonteconcocolli, or headache First, the herb ecuxo (or ecuchoton) or tobacco would be inhaled. Then the head was securely wrapped; incense could have been burned at this time. If the headache did not get better, then the dry herb cocoyatic would be inhaled. If the headache still persisted, the herb would be pulverized and put in the nose like nose drops. Finally, if the headache still were to persist, an obsidian blade would have been used to make an incision on the head to cause bleeding (Sahagun 19611981:10:140).

Motlevia, or fever An infusion of the root chichipilli with alum and acid water would be drunk. Then the person suffering with fever would be purged. Next, the root sand tomato would be drunk with the root of tacanalquiltl and the root aitztoli. These roots would be drunk with kernals of maize mixed in (Sahagun 19611981:10:160).

Xixiotl, or skin sores The core of small skin sores would be removed and pine resin and “sqaushed� black beetles would be mixted together and spread over as a poultice. The tlalamatl root would be applied with pine resin, or ground atlepatli leaves would be applied. Finally, a hot bath, with itzcuinpatli leaves, would be taken (Sahagun 19611981:10:157).

Quatotomoctli, chaquachtli, or head scabies, tinea First, the hair would be trimmed and cut, and then washed with urine. Then avocado would be applied to the head (Sahagun 1961-1981:10:140).

10 urinated

Ixchachaquachiviztli or roughness of the face First, the face would be washed with hot urine and smeared with powdered yellow chili. Then the face would be washed with hot urine or wormwood sap and azpan sap once more. Then the herb tlatlauhqui would be drunk, and an ailment “within” would be expelled in the urine, making the urine a red color or have pus. Finally, the person would be purged and told to refrain from spoiled food or maguey wine, and told to only drink water (Sahagun 1961-1981:10:143).

Tlanqualiztli, or tooth infection Pine resin would be mixed with ground conyayaoacl worms and placed as a poultice over the area that is hurting. Then a heated chili and salt would be pressed on the tooth. Finally, the gums are “pricked” and the herb tlalcacauatl would be applied to the tooth. If the infection of the tooth is persistent, then it would be extracted and salt would be poured into the cavity (Sahagun 1961-1981:10:146).

Totlatlalia, or stomach pain The Aztecs believed the remedy was to purge oneself if one was experiencing stomach pain. They would eat a few pine nuts and once the purging was stopped, one would drink yellow tamato juice with chili, gourd seeds, chocolate, tomatos; or drink a mixture of chichicquauitl wood or lime water. Then the herb xoxocoyoltic would be drunk to clean the bowels. After drinking this herb, the tzoncoatl worms would be expelled and the sickness would come out in one’s urine. Finally, the herb yamanquipatli would be drunk and then the ailment would be cured (Sahagun 1961-1981:10:155).

Quaxicalpetiliztli, Quaxicaltzaianjlitztli, or broken skull, wounded skull The wounded skull would be washed with urine and cooked maguey sap and powdered chili leaves with the white of an egg or toloa leaves mixed with the white of an egg would be applied to the surface. If the skull was broken, the break would be joined with a bone awl and covered with maguey sap (Sahagun 19611981:10:140-141).



urine ; the past

Urine and the Arts This is in no way meant to be salacious or crude. It is intended to be a serious, or, at least, semi-serious approach to a legitimate field of study.

JAPANESE KAPPA Some time ago an artist friend of mine in New York, Bill, e-mailed me and said he recalled something about urine being a constituent of a particular pigment. That got me going, and thinking about the significance of urine in Japanese print art and how there was almost nothing out there to be found. Unlike European painting and printmaking I only knew of one example of a Japanese figure urinating and that was minor element in a minor print by a minor artist I had never heard of. It shows a man from the back wearing a formal samurai outfit while relieving himself into a what appears to be a lacquer bowl. His aim is true, but there are splashes radiating outward. Why this artist chose this motif is a mystery as are so many other themes in Japanese prints. It certainly is understandable that such images are rare in woodblock prints. Its not a polite topic. I have found other examples of urination in Japanese woodblock prints, but they are few and far between. The most startling and fantastical of images is that of a woman bent over with her butt in the air and her head toward the ground looking back at the viewer. The question: is that urine she is blasting the kappa with or is that a fart? Probably the latter, but it sure looks like a spray of her ‘water’. There is a tradition in Japanese folklore dealing with kappas and farts. You figure it out. EUROPEAN CUPIDS In European art, on the other hand, it is a totally different story. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York there is a spectacular oil painting by Lorenzo Lotto of Venus and Cupid from the 1520s. Magnificently painted it shows a naked, reclining Venus with her left hand touching or near her left breast while her right arm is raised above her thigh holding a blue ribbon. At the end of the ribbon is a wreath of what appears to be laurel leaves. Standing next to her a young, winged cupid steadies the wreath with his left hand while aiming an arced stream of urine though the center so that it will land on his mother, the goddess of love. This bizarre scene was probably commissioned as a wedding gift and meant to symbolize fertility. Lotto probably was familiar with any number of ancient or Renaissance

bronze sculptures showing a playful youth directing his stream. Cupid’s behavior may actually refer to the “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” of Francesco Colonna which describes a dream in which ‘a peeing infant adorns a fountain inscribed with the Greek word for ‘laughter’…” As best I can tell there is a description of a statue of a young boy that has a mechanism that once triggered squirt water in the face of unsuspecting visitors. Supposedly on closer examination of the statue a person has to place his foot on a movable step which causes a lever to lift a pipe which directs the stream. That would be more startling (and disturbing) than someone spritzing you with a fake lapel flower. While writing this I just recalled a sculpture of a young boy and a frog in Kansas City It was created by Rafaello Romanelli (18561928), an Italian sculptor and there seems to be some question about which way the stream is flowing. I seem to recall it is from the frog to the boy, but a lot of people say it is the other way. It may not be from the age of Lotto, but I think it makes the point. THE SHOWER OF GOLD Equally as strange as the Lotto Venus and Cupid painting is the version of the Zeus/Danae myth created by Mabuse (aka Jan Gossaert: 14781532) in 1527. Acrisius, king of Argos, had no sons and only one daughter whom he loved dearly. An oracle said that if she lived she would bear a son who would kill him. Unable to bear the thought of killing Danae to save himself he had her locked in a dungeon – a tower in the Mabuse version. Zeus spotted her, was smitten and transformed himself into a golden shower to lay with her. The result was Perseus who was known to the Greeks as chrusopatros (fathered by gold) and the Romans as aurigena (generated by gold). Danae kept him hidden from Acrisius for four years but eventually they were found out. Refusing to believe that the father was Zeus Acrisius still couldn’t bring himself to kill them directly. Instead he had them placed in a trunk which was cast into the sea. At the island of Seriphos they were rescued or so it is said. Of course, Perseus grew up and unwittingly killed his grandfather. How? Well, Perseus competed in the games at Larissa in Thessaly and Acrisius was in attendance. When Perseus threw a discus it accidentally struck Acrisius and that was all she wrote. In the early 14th century someone composed a poem entitled Ovid Moralisé or Ovid Moralized. It was an allegory sprinkled with Christian beliefs. In Art and Money by Marc Schell it says: “The early fourteenth-century Ovid Moralized… emphasizes the ideas that the substance of God’s semen is gold… that it enters Mary [i.e., the Virgin] by the ear (oreille), and that Christ is an aurigena like Perseus.” In the Persians by Aeschylus the Chorus says that Xerxes believes he is descended from Perseus and therefore he is “…a god-like hero whose race is sprung from gold.” In Sophocles Antigone the Chorus tells us that Danae “…guarded a deposit of the seed of Zeus that had fallen in a golden rain.” Ovid referred to this event several times. Marlowe in his Edward II the king compares his love of a male companion to that of Zeus for Danae.

Thy absence made me droope, and pine away, For as the lovers of faire Danae, When she was lockt up in a brasen tower, Desirde her more, and waxt outragious, So did it sure with me

GANYMEDE, A PICTURE OF IDEAL BEAUTY There is an ancient myth of the abduction of a beautiful young prince from Troy who was spirited away by a giant bird to be the cupbearer of Zeus. Often referred to as the ‘Rape of Ganymede’ is an apt title. In the Iliad Homer tells us that the boy was the comeliest of mortal men. Some say he was more beautiful even than the most beautiful women. Everyone educated man in ancient Greece knew the story or a variation on it. The chorus in Euripides Trojan Women describe him as a Nancy boy, a pansy, prancing about his golden chalices. With a “…calm, sweet smile upon his young face…” he seems oblivious to suffering taking place at Troy, his formerly earthly home. Plato



urine ; the past is more explicit: In Phaedrus the sex is graphic and leaves nothing to the imagination. One of the speakers in the Laws makes it clear that he believes such behaviour is unnatural and that the myth was created by the Cretans just to justify their pederasty. Now let’s jump forward about 1,500 years to Michelangelo and his conception of ideal beauty. Of course, it is male, but not only that – it is usually male with extra muscles added. Michelangelo was clearly no fan of sissies and scrawny, kick-sand-in-his-face, weaklings. His Ganymede is as far from the one described by the Euripides chorus as one could get. In Michelangelo’s hands Ganymede was no longer a lithe, young boy. If his model, i.e., Michelangelo’s model, was alive today he would be in his late teens or early twenties, the product of years of pumping iron at a local gym, steroid abuse and maybe even be an actor in adult porn industry. This would more to Michelangelo’s liking and was. We no longer have Michelangelo’s original Ganymede, but we do have a print by Barbizet showing us what it looked like. Rembrandt must have had a visceral reaction to Michelangelo’s conception. At least that is what Kenneth Clark thought. Not only is Rembrandt’s Ganymede the antithesis of that of Michelangelo, but it clearly leaves behind the cupbearer of Homer and Plato and every other ancient Greek. Rembrandt replaces the majestic eagle with an somewhat disgusting and intimidating vulture-like bird. His Ganymede is no longer a muscular, over-sexed, young man or even a lithe youth, but rather is an only-a-mother-could-love, ugly, squirming baby. A baby who is so frightened that he is having the piss scared out of him. And if there is any question about what he has in store for him Rembrandt has placed a bunch of red cherries clutched tightly in his left fist. WHAT’S IN YOUR SECRET SAUCE? In the late 18th century a new type of glazed ceramics made it appearance in England. This was not a high-end commodity. In fact, it was rather low-end and looked down upon. The surface decoration ranged from a multicolored swirls to more delicate fernlike structures. This was mocha ware – or mochaware depending on who you ask. The glaze was a closely guarded secret, but not closely enough. We now know that it was composed of tobacco juice, hops, stale wine and urine – some say stale urine. The Grove Encyclopedia adds turpentine into the mixture. The question – like so many other questions I have asked – is: Whose dumb idea was it to concoct this devil’s brew? Well, it may have been dumb – originally – but in time it became more refined although it never attained elite status. However, the example shown on the right is of an 1820-40 lead glazed earthenware coffee pot from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and shows how refined a piece could be. INDIAN YELLOW AND GUESS WHAT MAKES IT YELLOW “Derived from the urine of cows that had been fed mango leaves, the pigment was used mainly for watercolor and tempera-like paints. It was also occasionally used in the West as a glazing color in oil or in underpainting…” In 1966 Gettens and Stout determined empirically that the formula was C19H16O11Mg.5H2O. Supposedly the government banned the production on humane grounds in 1908. Being fed only mango leaves shortened the life span of most cows. They have been described as sickly looking before they died. In Artist’s Pigments… it states that “The principal colorant compound in the pigment is based on the yellow crystalline magnesium salt of euxanthic acid.” Cow urine was evaporated out and then formed into balls by hand which were exported for refinement by pigment suppliers. There are numerous alternative names which have been given to this pigment including ‘snowshoe yellow’, something reminiscent of Frank Zappa. Jerry Vedger from PrintsofJapan

Potpourri Alchemia How to make the Philosopher’s Stone from urine.

THE MYSTERY OF URINE HOW TO PREPARE A TINCTURE FROM IT BY WHICH OTHER METALS CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO GOLD First, the red salt of urine is prepared as follows: Let good urine stand for some time till it putrefies, then distill from it the spirit of urine by itself, while evaporating the remaining Phlegma to dryness. Pour this spirit of urine on this salt residue in a flask, cover it with a blind alembic and set it for several weeks in a mild digestion. Then the spirit of urine extracts and dissolves the salt and sulphur contained in the residue. This done, collect the spirit of urine in another clean flask upon which apply an alembic with a receptacle luted on it. Then distill the spirit

of urine gently until a salty skin appears. That seen, set it in the cold, and it will result in beautiful bright red, yes, dark red transparent crystals. Carefully pound these with gold leaves, and finally melt this mass in a crucible. The gold therein will be completely opened and turned into a glassy substance, almost that of a ruby. If this substance is melted with silver and separated, it is supposed to tinge many parts of gold,But if it is extracted, it is supposed to be an incomparably good medicine. HOW TO MAKE THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE FROM THESE RED CRYSTALS Take one part of sulphur of the Sun (the red glass like powder of projection made from gold above) - which has already been

described- mix with one part of the red crystals,put this powder in a phial, seal it hermetically, and set it in the B.M. for 91 days. Then it will be congealed and flow like wax without fumes, and one part will tinge 13 parts of Mercury into gold. Pound this mass again to a fine powder and mix it with equal part of the red crystals, seal the glass hermetically, set it in the B.M. for 91 days, and the tincture will congeal, and one part will tinge 25 parts of Mercury into gold. Continue as before with the addition of red crystals till the tincture congeals in 8 days,and finally in 3 days. Then one part of it will tinge two hundred thousand parts into good gold. from Potpourri Alchemia



urine ; the present

author from source

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Xixi No Banho, Piss in the Shower From Rio de Janeiro, new TV ads are encouraging Brazilians to save water by urinating in the shower. Sort of makes sense.

Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica says the campaign, running on several television stations, uses humor to persuade people to reduce flushes. The group says if a household avoids one flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually. SOS spokeswoman Adriana Kfouri said Tuesday that the ad is “a way to be playful about a serious subject.”The spot features cartoon drawings of people from all walks of life - a trapeze artist, a basketball player, even an alien - urinating in the shower. Narrated by children’s voices, the ad ends with: “Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic rainforest!” is the official website to this campaign, filled with interactive illustrations for people to navigate through in order to get people to pee in the shower. from Huffington Post



urine ; the present

drinkpeedrinkpeedrinkpee Urine to Fertilzer DIY Kit by artists and collaborators Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray

CAUTION Perform reaction at your own risk in an open, well-ventilated space. Wear household gloves that you have rinsed thoroughly to remove any other chemicals that may be on them. Please use caution when handling chemicals. Do not eat, breathe in, or touch the included powders with your bare hands. Rinse all materials used for the reaction thoroughly in running water before use elsewhere. Eat watercress at your own discretion: it is neither advised nor discouraged. 01 PREP AND OBSERVE Urinate into the bowl included in the kit. For best results, use your first pee of the day. Pour off excess so that urine level reaches the 200 ml mark on the bowl. Note the smell and color as they are likely to change throughout the reaction. Measure the pH of the urine using one of the pH test strips and the color chart. Record pH. 02 CREATE UREASE SOLUTION Drop distilled water from the included dropper bottle into the vial that contains the Urease (smallest vial with tiny amount of white powder) until full. Cap the small Urease vial and swirl the container around until the urease appears to dissolve in the water.

05 PRECIPITATE STRUVITE Move to a well-ventilated area if you have not done so already. Slowly begin to add the magnesium chloride powder into the urine while gently stirring with the rod provided. Add only a fraction of a teaspoon at a time. The solution will get warm and may fizz slightly. Continue to stir for 30 seconds after adding all of the magnesium chloride provided. After 5 minutes, you will begin to notice a white sediment, called struvite, accumulating at the bottom of the glass. Allow the struvite to continue to accumulate for several hours- even overnight- or until you do not see any more building up. Thoroughly rinse stir rod with water only. 06 OBSERVE Test the pH and note your result. The pH should have decreased again. As the sediment accumulates the pH of the remaining liquid may go as low as 6. At this point, the benign portion of the urine will be in liquid form, with most of the pollutants trapped in the small amount of struvite sediment at the bottom of your container.

03 HYDROLYSE UREA Use the dropper to extract as much of the Urease solution as possible from the bottle and gently squirt it into the urine. Stir the urine and urease solution with the stirring rod provided. Use the plastic wrap to loosely cover the mixture. Note the time here. Place in fridge for 1.5 hours. Thoroughly rinse stir rod in running water. 04 OBSERVE After 1.5 hours, you may notice that the mixture now smells less like urine and more like ammonia. Use another dip stick to test the pH. Note the pH reading. The pH should have risen. Ideally, the pH should read 9 or above. If it does, proceed to the next step. If the pH reads less than 9, let the mixture sit for a couple more hours before proceeding. Test the pH again and note the result. Proceed to the next step.

07 FILTER LIQUID Secure the lab filter to the top of your glass bowl with the rubberband. Slowly turn the container over and allow the liquid to gradually drain through the filter into your sink, toilet, or an intermediary container. After all of the liquid has all passed through and the struvite is beginning to dry, remove the rubberband and push the filter into the bowl. Fill the bowl with tap water and swirl to release the struvite from the filter. Pull the filter out and put in your paper recycling or compost bin. 08 DILUTE STRUVITE FERTILIZER Leave approximately 1 teaspoon of the struvite-water mixture in the glass bowl, but pour the rest into a watering can or other large container. Add approximately 1 gallon of water. Use this nutrient-rich water to feed your houseplants. 09 GROW EDIBLE WATERCRESS Fill the glass bowl with tap water to further dilute the remaining struvite that will nourish your new watercress seeds as they germinate. Sprinkle watercress seeds from the included vial and place in indirect sunlight. They should start to sprout within a few days.

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We all think of human pee as gross and something that ought to be vigorously “cleaned up” or sanitized. However, human urine is actually sterile (unlike faeces, urine is bacteria-free). This liquid by product of our daily lives can be a rich food source if it gets into the RIGHT part of the right ecosystem. Now, most human urine travels untreated into the waterways and is a significant cause of eutrophication, a toxic condition caused by harmful algae blooms, in the oceans. The excess Nitrogen and Phosphorus in our urine overfeeds algae (like Red Tide) and effectively suffocates fish. However, a pioneering biological waste treatment process being used in Switzerland can extract this phosphorus & nitrogen for use as a fertilizer, leaving the rest of urine almost harmless to aquatic life. According to Riley and Bray this kit gives users the opportunity to replicate the new technique at home and fertilize their plants with their own pee. Although urine makes up only 1% of the total volume of wastewater, it accounts for 50–80% of the nutrient content. Nutrients have to be removed by resource-intensive processes at wastewater treatment plants. In the absence of these processes, nutrient discharges pose a risk of eutrophication – threatening in particular coastal waters and fish stocks. Many problematic substances, such as residues of medicines or endocrine disrupters, also enter wastewater via urine and may subsequently be released into the environment. The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) has now shown that separate collection and treatment of urine could make significant contributions to water pollution control and nutrient recycling worldwide. Novaquatis tested various methods of processing urine. Ideally, treatment should permit recycling of nutrients as fertilizers and, at the same time, removal of problematic micropollutants. For example, 98% of the phosphorus in urine can be recovered by precipitation with magnesium. The product – struvite – is an attractive fertilizer, free of pharmaceuticals and hormones. In Switzerland, nutrients from human urine could serve as substitutes for at least 37% of the nitrogen and 20% of the phosphorus demand that is currently met by imported artificial fertilizers.

Within this context, the DrinkPeeDrinkPeeDrinkPee Urine to Fertilizer DIY Kit probes the exchanges between our bodies and the environment. As sentient ecosystems, how do we direct the flow of our biological by-products into the larger ecosystems that sustain us in turn? You will be prompting ocean-derived magnesium to bond with the nitrogen, phosphorus, pharmacological micropollutants, and other metabolites in your urine. As a result, you will produce a solid fertilizer called struvite and a liquid by-product. You can use the struvite solid as a fertilizer for your houseplants. Its nitrogen and phosphorus content will nourish them and promote root growth. The liquid by-product of the reaction is less likely than your raw urine to create conditions of eutrophication and pharmacological micropollution in the waterways beyond your toilet.



urine ; the present

Why is my pee orange?? Question from ‘A’ : I had a hangover yesterday so i was really too sick to eat anything, so its not something i ate. I drank a couple glasses of water though and some diet coke. Usually if I only drink water, its just clear so idk why it was very orange this morning? Whats wrong

Answer from ‘WU-TANG FAN’ : Because you are dehydrated from the hangover. You need to drink more water. Also, you need to eat something to stabilize your blood sugar and metabolism. This could also be why the urine is orange. Source: Experience.

Answer from ‘SugarP’ : why oh why did you put this question on the food and drink section.. uughh anyway, you need to drink more water and go to the toilet more foten.

Answer from ‘Aleksis’ : it could be a liver problem :/ if it happens again you may want to get it checked out.

Answer from ‘plastikassassin_311’ : Sounds like Testicular cancer to me

Answer from ‘holden.bonez’ : its a way of your liver saying you shouldn’t drink alcohol

Answer from ‘matthew I’ : taking pills does it

Answer from ‘jaymesiler’ : Gawhhh

Best Answer Chosen by Voters from ‘Lady_catseyes’: Generally if you have orange urine but don’t have any other effects such as burning sensations or trouble urinating, you’re probably dehydrated. You say you drank some water. That’s good. Drink some more. Alcoholic beverages dehydrate you. That’s what gives you your hangover headache. It will take some time to flush your system so don’t be surprised if it takes a day to get your urine back to normal. Also, depending on what you drank, you might have dyed your urine orange. Seriously. If grape juice can make your feces green, there are things that can turn your urine orange. If you continue to have orange urine for more than a few days or you start getting other side effects, call the doctor. Otherwise, drink water and relax. from YAHOO! ANSWERS

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Holding Pee = Hangover According to Dr. Matthew Lewis from Caulfield Hospital, holding pee when driving has the same effect as an alcohol hangover.

If you suddenly want to pee while driving, you should not be postponed to stop searching for public a restroom. According to a study, the effects that holding pee has on the brain’s ability to concentrate and coordination is as bad as being drunk. When the bladder is in a fully charged condition, brain functions are disordered seriously enough so that concentration is difficult and it takes more time to make decisions. This effect is also experienced when a person has a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent. Even when not actually ‘dying to pee’, brain functions are already experiencing interference. Once one starts to feel the desire to pee, you experience a decrease in brain functions which is equivalent to the condition when a person does not sleep for 24 hours. This fact was revealed in the research of Dr. Matthew Lewis from Caulfield Hospital and published recently in the journal Neurology and urodynamics. Thanks to this same study, Dr. Lewis has won an award of the Ig Nobel Prize some time ago. “If the bladder is in full condition, it can reduce the speed of the

brain in a decision making process, especially when someone is driving,” Dr. Lewis wrote in his report from Since the Ig Nobel Prize is synonymous with queer studies, the impression of the results of Dr. Lewis’ may not look serious. Nevertheless, studies that are contested in the arena of humor are always based on scientific fact and can be accounted for. Even if there is still doubt to this conclusion, it is not advisable to hold urine for any reason. Urology experts agree; holding urine for too long and often can cause serious damage to the kidneys and urinary tract. from HealthMad



urine ; the present

Turning Urine Into Gold, For Real Business Alchemist Turns Urine Into Gold / Entrepreneurs, labs produce liquid assets

Kenneth Curtis is the kind of creative, can-do American entrepreneur who made this country what it is today. He saw a need, created a product, built a business. But now Big Government is on his back. The politicians just don’t like what he’s selling. Which is urine. His own. Curtis’ urine is pure. It’s natural. It’s organic. It’s composed of 100 percent recycled materials. And, most important to his customers, it’s guaranteed drug-free. “I live a clean life,” he says, “and I supply all the urine.” For $69, plus postage, Curtis sells five ounces of his urine in a little plastic bag, along with 30 inches of plastic tubing and a tiny heat pack designed to keep his fluid at body temperature. Taped to the body, this “urine test substitution kit” enables customers to pass off his urine for their own during workplace drug tests. “I’ve never had a customer fail a test,” he says. “I’m very proud of that.” Curtis, 40, was a pipe fitter in Greenville, S.C., when he started his urine business four years ago. Every time he signed on with a new construction contractor, he had to be tested. He always passed -- he doesn’t use drugs -- but the testing irked him. He considered it an unconstitutional violation of his privacy. “I was being tested a dozen times a year,” he says. “I found it very invasive.” So he decided to fight back. He developed his kit and founded a company, Privacy Protection Services, to sell it. He set up a Web site that advertises his, um, product, with a patriotic appeal, complete with waving American flags and an essay on the Fourth Amendment. He’s not selling urine, his site proclaims; he’s selling privacy, freedom and the American Way of Life. He’s sold thousands of the kits, he claims, although he won’t say how many thousands. “Suffice it to say, I don’t have to work as a pipe fitter anymore,” he says. Last spring, irate that Curtis’ kit could foil drug tests, South Carolina state Sen. David Thomas drafted a bill to ban the sale of urine. The bill carried a penalty of five years in prison for selling urine -- or even giving it away -- with the intention of defrauding a drug test. Texas, Nebraska and Pennsylvania have similar bans. “A business owner has the right to know that the employees working for him are drug-free,” Thomas says. At a hearing on the bill, angry legislators berated Curtis. “You typify what’s worst about this country,” said one. “Everybody else is trying to clean up drugs,” said another, “and you’re trying to put more in society.” “No sir,” Curtis replied. “I’m selling urine, not drugs. Urine has been around a long time.” The bill became law in June. To test it, Curtis walked into the Greenville police headquarters and ceremoniously presented one of his urine kits to a sheriff’s deputy. The cops huddled with a lawyer and then decided not to arrest Curtis, claiming his publicity stunt didn’t violate the law because the deputy who received the urine had no intention of defrauding a drug test. “I’m still in business,” Curtis says. The bizarre brouhaha over Curtis’ precious bodily fluids is the latest skirmish in a long war between the drug-testing industry and a gaggle of underground entrepreneurs who sell products designed to foil the tests: pills, potions, powders, shampoos and packets of freeze-dried urine, among other odd items. “It’s very much a cat-and-mouse game,” says Tom Johnson, a spokesman for SmithKline Beecham, one of the country’s largest drugtesting companies. “They come up with something to circumvent the process and the (drug-testing) companies do something to detect it. We always like to think that we’re ahead.” “They detect it and we move on,” says Matt Stevens, marketing director for Spectrum Labs, which sells “Urine Luck,” an additive that allegedly fools the tests. “Beating the labs is like fighting the federal government -- they’re so big and slow. . . . They can’t detect the current formula.” This cat-and-mouse game began with the rise of workplace drug testing in the 1980s. In 1982, the U.S. military instituted the first large drug-testing program after an accident aboard the USS Nimitz revealed widespread drug use on the aircraft carrier. The testing spread to other government agencies and then, by law, to companies contracting with the government.

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Early drug-testing programs tended to affect workers in safety-sensitive jobs -- pilots, bus drivers, train engineers -- but the practice soon spread to include bookkeepers, burger flippers, blackjack dealers and ballplayers. Today, 196 of the nation’s 200 largest companies use some form of workplace drug testing and nearly half of full-time workers have been tested at least once. Most tests are designed to detect traces of marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine and barbiturates. As testing increased, so did the demand for products designed to help America’s estimated 14 million current drug users -- most of them marijuana smokers -- to beat the tests. “It’s a burgeoning industry,” says Rick Cusick, “because the drug- testing industry is burgeoning.” Cusick ought to know. He’s an advertising salesman for High Times, a promarijuana magazine thick with ads for test-foiling products. The latest issue carries more than 10 pages of ads for such “detoxifying” drinks as “Ready Clean” and “XXtra Clean” and an herbal tea called “Quick Flush,” as well as shampoos designed to fool drug tests done on hair samples. “I think these products are useless,” says John P. Morgan, a professor of pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School and board member of the pro-pot National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation. “People are trying every day to stay ahead of the urine testers but they’re not succeeding.” Morgan has watched the war between the testers and the test-spoilers since the early ‘80s. First were herbal potions designed to be ingested with large quantities of water to dilute the urine so drug residues wouldn’t appear in detectable quantities, he says. It worked, but drug labs began rejecting samples that were too diluted. Then came chemical additives that masked drug residues, and labs began to test for them, too, Morgan says. And that created a demand for good, clean, wholesome, drug-free urine. “I know a guy who collected it from a child,” Morgan says. “I know a guy who collected it from a dog. And a guy in Texas who claimed he collected it from a Bible study group -- but I think that was a joke.” Meanwhile, Curtis is having a high time, selling his liquid wastes and appearing on countless TV and radio shows. “I get a great deal of satisfaction out of this job,” Curtis says. “I’m helping people to protect their privacy. The politicians have declared war on the people under the guise of the war on drugs. This is a guerrilla tactic to fight back. You fight against tyranny by any means necessary.” He expects to be arrested but says he’s not worried. “They can’t do anything to me that hasn’t been done to better patriots.” Until then, he continues to void his bladder into what he calls a “refrigerated receptacle.” “I freeze it all,” he says. “I don’t waste any of my assets. It’s literally liquid gold.” Peter Carlson from Washington Post

Maple Syrup Urine Disease Sorry folks, this time it’s not a joke. It’s quite serious, actually. Richard J. Allen, M.D. briefs us about this rare disease.

MSUD is a metabolic disorder of branched chain amino acids. The urine of affected individuals smells like maple syrup or burnt sugarhence the name. MSUD is caused by a deficiency of the branchedchain alpha-keto acid dehydrogenase complex (BCKDC), leading to a buildup of the branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) and their toxic by-products in the blood and urine.The disease is named for the presence of sweet-smelling urine, with an odor similar to that of maple syrup. The smell is better detected by examination of ear wax, but is not always present. The compound responsible for the odor is sotolon (sometimes spelled sotolone). Infants with this disease seem healthy at birth but if left untreated suffer severe brain damage and eventually die. From early infancy, symptoms of the condition include poor feeding, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, hypotonia, seizures, hypoglycaemia, ketoacidosis, opisthotonus, pancreatitis, coma and neurological decline. Treatment of children with MSUD must be started as soon as possible. This involves a complex approach to maintain metabolic control. A special, carefully controlled diet is the focus of daily treatment. The diet centers around a synthetic formula or “medical food” which provides nutrients and all the amino acids except leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids are added to the diet with strictly limited amounts of food to provide the protein necessary for normal growth and development without exceeding the level of tolerance. This requires careful monitoring of protein intake and close medical supervision for life.

Tests are available to monitor the levels of the amino acids and their keto acid derivatives in the blood and urine. Illnesses and stress, as well as consuming too much protein, raise these levels. Even mild illnesses can become life-threatening. A metabolic imbalance requires dietary changes and, at times, hospitalization. A liver transplant is an optional treatment. A donor liver from a person who does not have MSUD has enough enzyme activity to allow the person with MSUD to live free of the affects of MSUD. After transplant, the person with MSUD still carries the gene for the disorder, which can be passed to their offspring, but they are no longer in danger of a metabolic crisis and can eat a normal diet. MSUD Family Support Group



urine ; the future

Urine turns to Hydrogen

Sounds like more alchemy, but US researchers have developed an efficient way of producing hydrogen from urine - a feat that could not only fuel the cars of the future, but could also help clean up municipal wastewater.

Using hydrogen to power cars has become an increasingly attractive transportation fuel, as the only emission produced is water - but a major stumbling block is the lack of a cheap, renewable source of the fuel. Gerardine Botte of Ohio University may now have found the answer, using an electrolytic approach to produce hydrogen from urine - the most abundant waste on Earth - at a fraction of the cost of producing hydrogen from water. Botte says the idea came to her several years ago at a conference on fuel cells, where they were discussing how to turn clean water into clean power. ‘I wondered how we could do this better,’ she adds - so started looking at waste streams as a better source of molecules from which to produce hydrogen. Urine’s major constituent is urea, which incorporates four hydrogen atoms per molecule - importantly, less tightly bonded than the hydrogen atoms in water molecules. Botte used electrolysis to break the molecule apart, developing an inexpensive new nickel-based electrode to selectively and efficiently oxidise the urea. To break the molecule down, a voltage of 0.37V needs to be applied across the cell, much less than the 1.23V needed to split water. ‘During the electrochemical process the urea gets adsorbed on to the nickel electrode surface, which passes the electrons needed to break up 24 urinated

the molecule,’ Botte told Chemistry World. Pure hydrogen is evolved at the cathode, while nitrogen plus a trace of oxygen and hydrogen were collected at the anode. While carbon dioxide is generated during the reaction, none is found in the collected gasses as it reacts with the potassium hydroxide in the solution to form potassium carbonate. The group initially tested their process with ‘synthetic’ urine made of dissolved urea, but also showed that the process works just as well with real human urine. ‘It took us some time to get clearance to work with human urine - which held up publication of the research,’ says Botte. According to Botte, currently available processes that can remove urine from water are expensive and inefficient. Urea naturally hydrolyses into ammonia before generating gas phase ammonia emissions. These emissions lead to the formation of ammonium sulphate and nitrate particulates in the air, which cause a variety of health problems including chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and premature death. The group are currently conducting long term stability studies on their electrolysis systems, as well as conducting computational experiments to better understand the mechanisms at work. Botte believes the technology could be easily scaled-up to generate hydrogen while cleaning up the effluent from sewage plants. ‘We do not need to reinvent the wheel as there are already electrolysers being used in different applications.’ She believes the only the thing that would hamper the process would be the presence of a lot of salt. Bruce Logan, an expert in energy generation from wastewater and director of Pennsylvania State University’s H2E Center and Engineering Environmental Institute, applauded Botte’s efforts in developing a more energy efficient way of producing hydrogen than splitting water. However, he did caution that urea gets converted very quickly into ammonia by bacteria, which could limit the usefulness of the technique. However, Logan does feel that it would be a good idea to start saving up our urine - although not for the hydrogen. ‘You have to remember about the P [phosphorus] in pee - globally we need to start thinking about conserving phosphorus for fertiliser, because, just like oil, one day the deposits are all going to run out and we need to start building phosphorus recycling into our infrastructure,’ he says. Matt Wilkinson from Royal Society of Chemistry

Pee from Poo, Modern Dry Toilets Apparently pee’s the gold, and toilets That Separate Pee For Urea-Hydrogen Fuel Harvesting Already on Market

Ohio University researcher Gerardine Botte had developed a catalyst that could extract hydrogen fuel from urine much more cheaply than water. he breakthrough was important because water is increasingly scarce in many regions, and will get even more so, the worse that climate change gets. And that means that we won’t be able to spare water to make fuel. And that’s why a specially new waterless toilet that separates liquids from solids might just be in your future. Botte developed a cheap new nickel-based electrode that was able to selectively and efficiently oxidize urea to break apart the molecule to get hydrogen out. Not only was the electrode cheaper, but by using urea instead of water, she got twice the hydrogen at a third of the effort. Only 0.37 volts were needed to strip urea’s four hydrogen atoms because they are not as tightly stuck together as the two hydrogen atoms in water. Thus the hydrogen fuel breakthrough. So now urine needs to be separated. And harvested. And put on the market. Here’s how that could happen. We would use toilets that don’t use water, a valuable resource. Instead we would separate out those valuable liquids from solid wastes. Sound implausible? Gar Smith at Alternet describes: “That is not such a strange idea: The human body is designed to send solid and liquid wastes in opposite directions. One immediate result of separating pee from poo is the elimination of the unpleasant aromas associated with the traditional outhouse.

While installing waterless toilets in high-rise apartments might raise certain engineering challenges, “urine-separating dry toilets” are being adopted around the world - from South Africa, Peru, Cuba, and India.” So what about the rest of the western world? It turns out that a company called Natures Head has already developed a toilet that separates liquids and solids. While they had developed it to meet the hygiene needs of US boaters and RVers - their toilet has real application in pee harvesting, because it’s a dry toilet that separates liquids from solids, and composts the solid waste with the addition of peat moss. They invented it because separating the liquids and solids helps boats and RVs not to smell. The longer you let a composting toilet sit, the better it will smell when it’s time to empty it. That’s because the longer a composting toilet sits the more time it has to turn waste back into earth. But it’s the urea that’s the real gold. Maybe that company should revamp its branding and marketing; spruce up the website a little to reach beyond the RV customer to the larger world. Because that humble little bucket of harvested pee in the front? You can pour that on the garden, because it makes a great fertilizer. Or you would store it in a larger bucket in the garage for routine cerb side recycling pickup to be recycled into the fuel of the future. Susan Kraemer from Clean Technica



urine ; the future

Drink it, and We’re Not Talking about Urine Therapy On tap in space: Urine will not go to waste

Astronauts living on the International Space Station soon will take recycling to new extremes: They’ll get some of their drinking water from the toilet. NASA has spent decades perfecting a system to transform urine into water that can be used in space for drinking, food preparation and washing. Agency officials say the water from the system will be cleaner than U.S. tap water. The new $250 million machine was being unpacked Wednesday at the space shuttle’s Florida launch site. Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to take it to the station this fall. If all goes well, the so-called toilet-to-tap system will be fully operational in six months. Russia developed a similar system in the 1980s but it never flew in space because of concerns over crew squeamishness, says former station astronaut Leroy Chiao, now a space consultant. He says station crews expect hardships and aren’t likely to object. “You’re going (to the space station) as part of exploration,” he says. “This is just something you have to put up with, and that’s OK.” Some of the crew’s drinking water already comes from an unconventional source: evaporated laundry water and sweat, which are captured by a Russian machine. NASA developed the new system because water is so heavy to carry to orbit. Once the number of station residents grows from three to six next year, it would be impossible to ship enough water to the station, says Marybeth Edeen of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. A toilet to arrive on the station this fall will funnel liquid waste to the new system through pipes, but the wastewater from the station’s older toilet will have to be carried in tanks to the processing machine. There, water will be distilled from the waste and undergo six steps to cleanse it, including the addition of iodine to kill microbes. The machine will also suck in humidity from the astronauts’ sweat and breath and clean it. The end product will fill the bowls of the new toilet and will also dribble from taps in a galley and a “hygiene center,” where astronauts will bathe and brush their teeth. The new machine will provide roughly half of the crew’s water intake, says Bob Bagdigian of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, including 1¾ gallons per person per day for drinking and food. 26 urinated

Recycling wastewater also is gaining in popularity on Earth. A dozen or so U.S. communities have plants that cleanse sewage so it can be added to aquifers that supply drinking water. The biggest plant, which can serve 500,000 people, opened this year in Orange County, Calif. Public disgust has squelched such systems in San Diego and Los Angeles. Edeen admits the recycled water poses a “psychological issue to get past” but says that, after tasting it “many, many times,” she can’t tell it apart from any other water. “It’s not urine anymore,” she says. “It’s water.” “I very much understand (public) squeamishness,” Bagdigian says. But, he adds, he doesn’t have to contend with it, because “you’re talking about people who’ve already come to grips with putting themselves on a rocket.” Traci Watson from USA TODAY

Nano Urine

Researchers at Bristol Robotics Lab, a collaborative UWE/University of Bristol research facility, are looking into the use of urine as the ‘fuel’ for Microbial Fuel Cells, which use bacterial cultures to break down ‘food’ to create power. MFCs are a developing technology used to power robots.

Researchers at BRL have spent three and a half years developing EcoBot-III, funded by EU FP-6 - a robot which can power itself by digesting waste. The early stage work of the EcoBot-III research was funded by EPSRC. Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, with the help of this prestigious Fellowship, will take the concept of the Microbial Fuel Cells to the next level with a new team of researchers. They will work on scaling up the MFCs so that they can work together in a ‘stack’ – a series of cells which are connected both electrically and in terms of the liquid feed-lines under a continuous flow system. Developing this will present a challenge for the researchers, as the liquid must be in a continuous flow, but still allow individual MFCs to remain isolated. However a stack of linked MFCs will be much more efficient and produce more energy than the same number of individual MFCs. A unique aspect of their research will be to look at the use of urine as a waste material that could be used to power the MFCs. Dr Ieropoulos explains, “Over the years we have fed our MFCs with rotten fruit, grass clippings, prawn shells and dead flies in an attempt to investigate different waste materials to use as a ‘food source’ for the Microbial Fuel Cells. We have focused on finding the best waste materials that create the most energy. Urine is chemically very active, rich in nitrogen and has compounds such as urea, chloride, potassium and bilirubin, which make it very good for the microbial fuel cells. We have already done preliminary tests which show it being a waste material that is very effective. Although it is early days for this research, we hope to work towards producing a prototype portable urinal which would use urine to create power from fuel cells. We envisage that this could be used for example at music festivals and other outdoor events.” The researchers are already in touch with a waterless urinal company who have seen the potential of the technology. Marcus Rose of Ecoprod Technique says, “Ecoprod Technique is a urinal company dedicated to the environmental benefits that our waterless urinal provides. We have talked to the researchers who say this product is the

only type totally suited to complement this research. We are looking forward to helping with this unique project with the supply of Urimat – The Waterless Urinal which the research team have chosen. This will be a valuable and interesting collaboration for the company to be involved in.” A further aspect of the EPSRC funded project is to develop the cathode side of the MFC so that the whole cell becomes self sustaining. Each MFC has an anode side and a cathode side which together as two half-cells complete the system to create power. Commonly bacteria are in the anode side, and chemicals or oxygen are in the cathode side, which complete the reactions (i.e. close the circuit). This research will develop the use of oxygen-producing organisms (such as algae) instead of chemicals in the cathode side of the MFC, thus moving towards a self-sustaining system – the waste from the algae can – for example – be used to feed the bacteria in the anode side, i.e. using its own waste to produce energy. Dr Ieropoulos says, “The award of this grant is a huge step forward and a great challenge for me and the team. I am thankful to the EPSRC for giving me this great opportunity to integrate the three areas of research – creating stacks of MFCs, self sustainable cathodes and using waste products to produce energy. Advances in this area could provide a significant contribution to the challenges we currently face in terms of energy production and waste clean up. We hope this research will help change the way we think about energy and human waste.” The project builds on the success of the EcoBots I, II and III research carried out by Dr Ieropoulos, Professor John Greenman Professor and Professor Chris Melhuish, together with technical support from Ian Horsfield and other members of the BRL team. Current research being carried out by Ioannis includes the collaboration with Wessex Water on wastewater treatment and MFCs, and a project looking at the materials and structures of the MFCs. from University of West of England



urine ; the future

28 urinated

Can Urine Whiz Rockets to Mars? The idea of using urine to whiz rockets to the moon and beyond is once again leaking into the realm of possibility.

The idea of using urine to fuel rockets are becoming a reality because scientists have begun to crack the code of how bacteria that live without the aid of oxygen convert ammonium - a key chemical in urine - into hydrazine, which is a type of rocket fuel. “It is a complex of three proteins” that do the trick, Mike Jetten, a microbiologist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, explained to me in an email today. The urine-to-fuel concept first gained traction in the 1990s when scientists discovered the microbe, called anammox for anaerobic ammonium oxidation, that does this, but the idea stalled out when scientists realized only small quantities of the fuel are produced. “Now that we understand how hydrazine is made we can try to improve the catalyst,” Jetten said. “And we produce millions of tons of ammonium in wastewater every year,” he added, suggesting that therein is enough of

the material to manufacture rocket fuel. For now, the microbe is used in wastewater treatment facilities, and the findings reported Sunday in the journal Nature have more realistic and earthly applications there, said Jetten. “The better we know the process, the better we can optimize and design new wastewater treatment systems,” he said. The team is also investigating “a new concept in which waste is converted into methane,” Jetten added. John Roach from Future of Tech




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