Three Ways Pee Could Change the World

Three Ways Pee Could Change the World

We can use urine to make medicines, power cell phones, and create “pee-cycled” water.
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From Gunpowder to Teeth Whitener: The Science Behind Historic Uses of Urine, from Smithsonian:

Management of INfertility: Past, Present and Future (from a personal perspective), by Bruno Lunenfeld:

‘Pee-Power’ to light camps in disaster zones, from UWE Bristol:

Urine-tricity, from Bristol Robotics Laboratory:

From toilet to tap: Getting a taste for drinking recycled waste water, from CNN:

Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System:

Host, Animator, Editor
Anna Rothschild

Christina Couch

DP, Sound
Sam Stulin

Applied Sunblock A
Music Provided by APM

Special thanks to Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos and the Orange County Water District.


Mobile phone runs on urine power – Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Courtesy University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol

Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System
Jim Kutzle, Orange County Water District

Microfiltration Basin
Orange County Water District

Reverse Osmosis trains of the Groundwater Replenishment System
Steve Crise, courtesy of American Water Works Association (AWWA)

Crystal-clear purified water from the Groundwater Replenishment System is piped to OCWD’s percolation ponds in Anaheim, California
Mark Greening, Orange County Water District

MF Cell
Steve Crise, courtesy of the American Water Works Association (AWWA)

Woman Teeth


Filling glass with tap water

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock
Wikimedia Commons/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Movie Trailer Screenshot (34)
Wikimedia Commons/Mddlpps

Nuns clamming -Toni Frissell LC-F9-04-57090012-17
Wikimedia Commons/Toni Frissell

Portrait de Dante
Wikimedia Commons/Sandro Botticelli

Sputnik 191378-full
Wikimedia Commons/NASA

Symptoms of menopause (raster)
Wikimedia Commons/Mikael Häggström

Toilet on the ISS


(used with permission from author)

Squeak Pack/squeak_10


cough cough sniff sniff



Produced by WGBH for PBS Digital Studios

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20 Responses

  1. oscargordon says:

    I was trekking in the Andes and had stopped off at a Quechua weaver’s home.
    The outhouse was of course outback, with a hole for your poo, but you were
    first suppose to pee in a bucket. She would use concentrated pee to set the
    dyes in her wool.

  2. Michael Jobin says:

    like she said EEEEYOU !

  3. zentouro says:

    i wonder how often i can incorporate the phrase ‘pee cycling’ into everyday

  4. BinkieMcFartnuggets says:

    I knew gargling nun urine was good for me! And people thought I was

  5. Shaunt1 says:

    Look out it’s an evil Rothschild!

  6. AntWorld says:

    Uh… I have a lot of pee kept in water bottles… Mainly because I’m a
    lazy fucks who dont want to leave his room to pee.

  7. Christopher Willis says:

    Instructions unclear, peed on cell phone and it no longer works

  8. Alexander Rudasi says:

    I really like how informative your videos are, but I can’t help but think
    that the whole premise of “Gross Science” is just never going to get very
    popular. Unless the plan all along is to talk about things you know no one
    else will. Keep up the good work none the less.

  9. sooooooooDark says:

    peeople i see Kappa

  10. Lookatmy Name says:

    Great… so now I’m drinking some dirty old man’s pee..


  11. Giraffe George says:

    Now I can feel good about peeing in the shower or pool because I’m giving
    people around electrons. (*cough cough joke for those who want to start an

  12. cannibalismisnoobish says:

    Anna Rothschild? You part of the richest family in the history of humanity?

  13. jmcosmos says:

    Pee has been an essential part of the leather-tanning process for
    centuries. The ammonia component does a great job of softening leathers.

  14. Alex Hernandez says:

    the recycled pee…Knights Of Sidonia made me think it was just a “future
    thing” 0.0

  15. DeluxeGods says:

    Oooooooor just go freaking vegan!!!!

  16. Debauchery Dude says:

    Science is amazing! :D

  17. Ruffles the great says:

    i hate her and her face