Gilpin Family Whisky: A Golden Recycling Opportunity

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Pee-lease Recycle

Creative Commons License photo credit: katielips

If you like whisky, urine for a surprise. There are lots of types of whisky on the market- Powers Gold and Jameson are two of the more popular Irish brands you may find more of around St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s another way to make whisky, with a little help from the bladder. The Gilpin Family Whisky project is a rather unusual way to inform people about diabetes. Urine excreted by diabetic patients has a high amount of sugar. The Gilpins utilize this sugar in the fermentation of high-end single malt whisky. Talk about liquid gold.

TIDBIT: You may have noticed that sometimes whisky is spelled including the letter “e.” The spelling “whisky” is used for whiskiess distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan, while “whiskey” with an “e” is only used for the spirits distilled in Ireland and the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specified “whisky” as the official U.S. spelling in a 1968 directive, but many American distilleries have kept the “e”. For the purposes of this post, it will be spelled without an “e”.

James Gilpin is a Type 1 diabetes patient, meaning that his pancreas doesn’t function the way it should, making it necessary for him to take shots of insulin to process glucose from food. He applied the use of the distillation process used in making whisky to make use of the sugar in pee.

In case you were wondering, this whisky is not produced on a commercial scale, or something you’ll start finding at a liquor store near you. Gilpin Family Whisky was created to inform the public of the issues surrounding living with Type 1 Diabetes. Gilpin’s project sheds some light on emerging biomedical technologies, and in the fall of 2010, his whiskies were on display at a design convention, along with tastings for those brave enough to try them. If you can get past the gross-out factor, resources are reused and recycled in a pretty unconventional and ingenious way.

Take a leak, uh, look at the Gilpin Family Whisky project.

And the Number One Way to Recycle Pee Is….

Get it? Number one?

Time for a chemistry lesson! Urine is mostly waster and a small amount of urea. Another small percent is a mix of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes. Urine also contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, so it works well as a fertilizer. You can’t just throw urine onto your plants, but if you dilute it at about 10:1, urine used as a fertilizer would use a fraction of the amount of water currently used to flush it away while producing a valuable plant food. Dilute up to 50:1 for use on younger plants and seedlings. You can also put urine in your compost pile.

Researchers were looking for a way for urine to power robots.

Finally, see how recycling “whizards” at NASA are finding ways to recycle astronauts’ pee into drinking water.

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