Urine-based Bio-bricks

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Urine-based Bio-bricks


Designer/artist: Dr Dyllon Randall with Suzanne Lambert and Vukheta Mukhari / University of Cape Town (UCT)

Year: 2018

Description: This is the first-ever bio-brick 'grown' directly from human urine. The bio-bricks are made when combining the urine with extra calcium and bacteria which gets broken down in a natural process known as microbial carbonate precipitation. In this method, the bacteria breaks down urea present within the urine to produce a type of cement. Furthermore, the team collects urine directly from selected toilets at UCT that they’ve equipped with removable containers. “With sustainability in mind, we need a paradigm shift. We should be rethinking waste [like urine], focusing on resource recovery. We need sustainable processes that reduce carbon emissions” - Dr Dyllon Randall.

About the designer: Dr Dyllon Randall is a registered Professional Engineer and has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from UCT (2010). His work has has won several national and international awards, including the 2019 Warner prize from the global Institution of Chemical Engineering for “exceptional research in the field of sustainable sanitation systems, for notably challenging the status quo and for disseminating findings to the broader public and scientific community”.

Image credit: Bio-bricks, as seen at https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/25/liquid-gold-students-make-worlds-first-brick-out-of-human-urine