Turning urine into tea with smart technology

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

From Pee to Tea demonstration at Aquatech in RAI Amsterdam

How urinating can eventually result in a lovely ‘cuppa’, made from water that has left the body, is demonstrated at Aquatech. This international trade exhibition for water treatment and drinking water took place in RAI Amsterdam from 5 to 8 November.

The ‘Aquatech demo lane’ is situated on the square in front of the RAI and therefore open to the general public. Children, students, neighbourhood residents and other visitors are invited to see for themselves how urine can be transformed into a fresh cup of tea after being treated with smart technology.
Although water extracted from urine in this way is actually sufficiently clean to drink, it does not have the approval of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. For this reason, the mint tea is made from normal tap water, although the mint used is grown on fertiliser extracted from urine.
The technology comes from the aerospace sector. Dutch company Semilla Sanitation from Oss is presenting the ultra-modern system, developed to make drinking water from polluted water in places like slums in developing countries or after natural disasters.

Children, students & visitors invited to tea
“We worked on this project for over four years with parties such as the European Space Agency (ESA),” says Peter Scheer, director of Semilla Sanitation. “After lots of research, including using sanitary facilities at festivals, we found that what had seemed a utopian idea had in fact become a sustainable reality. From pee to tea really is possible. Clean water is the foundation for life, and this is something we can now contribute to.” The treatment of urine and polluted water produces an interesting by-product too in the form of fertiliser that can be used in agriculture and horticulture.

In addition to enjoying a cup of tea, the demo lane at the RAI also invites visitors to have a beer made from rain water in the one and only bar in the Netherlands where it actually rains inside the venue. Under the motto ‘heavy shower = happy hour!’, the Rainbar aims to make visitors consider the need to make better use of our (excess) rain water.
With the petrification of our cities, excessive rain is causing increasing problems. The question is how we can all use rain water more efficiently and make our cities rain-proof. The Rainbar was launched for the general public last summer during ROEF, Amsterdam’s rooftop festival. It increases awareness in an entertaining way and stimulates discussion about issues such as flooding and climate change. The Rainbar is a concept by ROEF Collectief, commissioned by Amsterdam Rainproof, Water Sensitive Rotterdam, Waternet and the Amstel, Gooi en Vecht district water board.

Aquatech is also organising a so-called ‘Aquarun’, a 5k race through and around the RAI complex, on the morning of Thursday 7 November. The race starts at 08.00 and costs € 25.00 to join.
Register now »
All profits from the run will go to the charity Aquaforall.
Aquatech and RAI Amsterdam are committed to creating a healthier future for all of us. In light of this principle, the proceeds of Aquatech Innovation Award will be donated to AMREF Flying Doctors, to support their projects in Kenya.

Aquatech: the most advanced technology for global water issues
Aquatech, part of the International Water Week, is the largest international trade exhibition for drinking water and waste water treatment. It features some 1000 exhibitors and expects more than 25,000 water professionals. Aquatech 2019 will take place in RAI Amsterdam from 5 to 8 November.

Aquatech aims to stimulate the discussion about water. The urgency to take action is clear, even among the general public, and although there are already many solutions and measures for tackling water issues, they come at a considerable price both financially and emotionally speaking. After all, drinking tea made from treated sewage water falls outside of people’s comfort zone. This is exactly why tea made from urine and beer made from rain water fit well into Aquatech’s social role.