Let it flow: How ‘pee power’ could save lives

‘Pee power’ could one day save the lives of thousands of displaced refugees, and one Garden company is helping to bring that reality closer.

Dunster House Ltd, manufacturers of timber garden buildings in the UK, is helping scientists to generate electricity from urine. The company has donated its emergency pissoire superstructure for the ‘Pee-power’ project led by the University of the West of England and Oxfam. The new technology could have a huge impact in refugee camps where thousands of people are living without access to adequate sanitation facilities and electricity.

africa toilet

The toilet is part of Dunster House’s humanitarian range and it is now situated near the Student Union Bar at UWE Bristol. Dunster House director, Chris Murphy says, “As a company that is constantly moving forward and searching for new solutions we are really excited that we can take part in this project. Our mission is to help resolve as many humanitarian issues as possible and we truly believe that our products can make a difference, especially in developing countries.”

The prototype urinal collects pee and uses naturally occurring bacteria, for which urine is their feedstock to generate electricity from the waste.

Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, Director of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at UWE Bristol explains, “This technology is about as green as it gets, as we do not need to utilise fossil fuels and we are effectively using a waste product that will be in plentiful supply.”

This new technology offers a practical solution to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who have no access to safe sanitation.

Andy Bastable, Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam, says, “Oxfam is an expert at providing sanitation in disaster zones, and it is always a challenge to light inaccessible areas far from a power supply. This new technology is a huge step forward. Living in a refugee camp is hard enough without the added threat of being assaulted in dark places at night. That’s why the potential of this invention is huge.”

Dunster House’s toilet has been chosen for the project as the scientists wanted to make the trial as realistic as possible. Dunster House has already become an Oxfam supplier and launched its emergency latrines to countries affected by conflict such as South Sudan and Central African Republic. The urinal on the university campus resembles those toilets used in refugee camps.

With their experience in timber manufacturing and off grid technology Dunster House team have designed and developed many other products that could provide potential solutions for humanitarian aid.

See how it works here:

For more details, please visit or their new humanitarian facebook page.You can also call +44 01234 272445 or send an email

Leave a Reply