Suzanne Lambert and Vutheka Mukhari
These students from the University of Cape Town (UCT), this year, created the world’s first bio-brick using human urine. The bio-bricks were made through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation.
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“In this case, loose sand is colonised with bacteria that produce urease,” Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, Dr Dyllon Randall said.
“An enzyme, the urease breaks down the urea in urine while producing calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction.”
“This cements the sand into any shape, whether it’s a solid column, or now, for the first time, a rectangular building brick,” he added.
The students’ brick, which uses real human urine for the first time has significant consequences for waste recycling and upcycling, the university said.