Microbe magic: Manufacturing goes low-tech with sand and bacteria

07.07.2013 Furniture : Low Tech : Urine

Edinburgh – Alchemists never managed to turn lead into gold, but one student at Edinburgh College of Art has done the next best thing: turning urine into a stool.

The student, Peter Trimble, has developed Dupe, a low-tech micro-manufacturing unit that mixes urine and the bacillus pasteurii bacterium and slowly pours it into a mould of a chair packed with sand. The urea in the urine reacts with the bacterium and transforms the sand into sandstone.

Trimble was inspired by the notion of microbial manufacture using bacteria, a natural process that, in this case, produces no greenhouse gases and uses widely available raw material. It provides a low-cost, low-intensity alternative to the energy-guzzling production of concrete.

Applications for the process might include street furniture and housing. For more on how consumers are looking to disruptive, revolutionary and DIY ideas, see our Anarconomy Decade macrotrend and toolkit.

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