Weird Science: Urine From Cannabis Users Creates Electricity

For most of us, the idea of scientists talking about researching the power generated by cannabis user’s urine seems, well, unlikely. Certainly, even among scientists, that’s just not a topic they are likely to discuss.

Or is it?

As it turns out, scientists in recent years have been conducting studies into using human waste to produce energy. A recent study on the urine of marijuana users is yet another step in that process.

Turkish scientists took the lead on this one, testing both the ability of marijuana user’s urine to generate power and whether the process itself can reduce some of the toxicity of THC-infused urine. They found success on both counts.

The Power of Cannabis-Infused Urine

The new study was published in BioSource Technology Reports and can be seen on Science Direct.

In it, Turkish scientists reported that they were able to remove cannabis metabolites from the urine of pot users, and in turn use it to generate electricity. The did so by using microbial fuel cells (MFC) that combine chemical compounds and bacteria to produce electricity.

This is something that has been studied for years as a way to provide sustainable energy that does not require fossil fuels.

The Turkish researchers also were searching for ways to break down the cannabis metabolites in human urine, something that is apparently hard to do. These metabolites in large enough amounts can cause “oxidative stress to aquatic organisms.”

Their research found that not only did their process generate electricity, it also eliminated about 60% of the troublesome metabolites.

How They Did It

Part of the process of using MFC involves running electricity through the urine, which leads to a chemical reaction and a splitting of the compounds within the urine. What the researchers found was surprising – they eliminated a high amount of the potentially toxic metabolite.

“This is the first report demonstrating the degradation of the primary cannabis metabolite found in human urine, using MFC technology,” the researchers wrote.

They also generated electricity at a higher rate than when they used urine that did not contain THC. They found that synthetic urine infused with THC also generated electricity. They concluded that the generation of electricity from urine was influenced by THC concentration.

They also wrote that the MFC process on urine “can be used for the treatment of cannabis metabolites found in human urine to prevent contamination of natural ecosystems.”

The enhanced electricity generation aspect of the experiment will likely lead to further studies into producing energy from human waste. The use of MFC has been a hot topic among researchers as they search for ways to replace oil and coal as fuel sources.

“Microbial fuel cells have real potential to produce renewable bioenergy out of waste matter like urine,” said Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, a professor at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom who has studied the issue, according to Elsevier.

“The world produces huge volumes of urine and if we can harness the potential power of that waste using microbial fuel cells, we could revolutionize the way we make electricity.”

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