What role do our bodies play in larger ecosystems? That's the question asked by drinkpeedrinkpeedrinkpee, a project and installation that opens at Eyebeam in New York City today. The installation features a large scale physical diagram that shows the role our bodies play in the water cycle, and DIY kits for using your pee as plant fertilizer will be available.
That's right; in an ultimate waste = food opportunity, users of the kits can take something often responsible for algae blooms and prescription drugs in our water and turn it into a valuable nutrient; as we've mentioned before, pee might soon be too valuable to flush, so here's your ticket to saving the phosphorous and nitrogen plants need to grow and keeping it out of our waterways. There are even seeds included in the kit, so you can grow your own hydroponic plants fertilized by your pee. Here's how that works:After testing their urine, users add an enzyme, wait for their urine to hydrolyze (the "chemical reaction or process in which a chemical compound is broken down by reaction with water," according to Wikipedia), and then add Magnesium Chloride, causing it to separate. Using a filter, the leftover liquid gets poured off, leaving the fertilizer in the jar. Just add water and seeds, and, voila: hydroponic plants will grow.
Why this project? Swiss scientists at EAWAG Aquatic Research did some research, crunched some numbers, and came up with this:
"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 . . ."
"While urine accounts for less than 1% of total wastewater volume, it contains 50–80% of all the nutrients in wastewater. Many micropollutants, i.e. residues of pharmaceuticals and hormones from human metabolism, also enter wastewater via urine. On average, for all medicines and hormones ingested, 60–70% of the active ingredient is excreted in the urine.
"85-90% of the nitrogen and 50-80% of the phosphorus are concentrated in the urine. These nutrients are desirable in agriculture, but not in waterbodies."
FEEDBACK at Eyebeam is on display March 13 - April 19 at 540 W. 21st St. (between 10th and 11th) in New York City. If you've ever pondered answers to questions like: What is our medication’s future, beyond our bodies, in the sewage system and out in the waterways we swim in and eventually drink? What are the possible futures of our personal waste? What do sentient ecosystems eat and drink? -- this is for you. Get more info from the project creators at ::Submersible Design via ::Cool Hunting