INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 45 NUMBER 2
Heart-Like Device Converts Human Waste To Electricity
Researchers at Bristol Robotics Laboratory have created a new device that can pump human waste into the engine room of a self-sustaining robot, according to the Institute of Physics.
The device, modeled on the human heart, could power future generations of the EcoBot, which can function on its own by collecting waste and converting it into electricity. Researchers at laboratory have crated four generations of EcoBots in the last decade.
Study lead author and industrial engineer from University of The West of England Peter Walters said that in the future, urine-powered EcoBots could perform environmental monitoring tasks such as measuring temperature, humadity, and air quality. He also said, a number of EcoBots could also function as a mobile, distributed sensor network. In the city environment, they could recharge using urine from urinals in public lavatories. In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms.
They have demonstrated that the pump can be powered by a stack of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) fed on urine, and that it is capable of pumping water or urine ti the height required to feed the MFC with fuel.
The robots could generate energy from rotten fruit and vegetables, dead flies, waste water, sludge and human urine, the Institute of Physics reported. Weller said the new artificial heartbeat is mechanically simpler and could be more reliable than an electric motor because artificial muscle fibers, not complex assemblies, create the pumping action.