One of the biggest challenges with solar power is that it requires actual sunlight to reach peak efficiency. But a team of German scientists may have discovered a way to artificially create sunlight for the purposes of generating fuel.

The experiment involved 149 spotlights that combined to simulate the light produced by the sun. The lights were the type used in movie theaters. The team focused on a small spot within the lit area, measuring only 8 X 8 inches. The end result was the generation of 10,000 times the solar radiation that would be achieved by natural sunlight in the same area.

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The chief idea, though, seems to have been to turn urine into potable water -- which, once accomplished, gave rise to the idea of using the newly created H2O for making beer. What better use for the filtered substance in a country that has long prided itself on its variety of ales and lagers?

According to a report from Reuters, a team of scientists at the University of Ghent announced that they have come up with a machine that uses solar energy to transform urine into fertilizer and water. The technique could be implemented in developing nations and rural regions.

One plus for this water treatment machine is its ability to operate without a wired power source. By harnessing the sun's energy to make things work, the machine could be used in areas where there is no or limited access to power grids.

Indeed, says one of the researchers, "We're able to recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy."

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Global warming isn't news to most people, with environmentalists having warned about its impact for decades. But a new report from the United Nations could have more people taking it more seriously than ever. According to the report, which was compiled by 235 scientists and economists around the world, cautions that failure to shift to renewable energy sources will have disastrous results.

The report calls for major changes within the next 15 years, including eliminating coal power stations and replacing them with wind- and solar-powered power stations. Despite numerous calls to action on the issue, scientists say human attempts to stop greenhouse gases have been largely ineffective. In the past decade, greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels, according to the report.

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