Scientists have come up with a new use for sewage waste. Yes–that kind of sewage waste. The EcoBot III is a robot that is completely powered by energy from waste. This amazing robot turns sewage waste into energy through its microbial fuel cells. While that may sound disgusting to some, this robot has the potential to cause a lot of excitement for those who care about sustainability and reducing energy consumption.
The EcoBot II was produced as a joint venture of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Wessex Water. Bristol Robotics Laboratory is a collaborative research project of the University of Western England the University of Bristol, and Wessex Water is a regional sewage treatment company. The EcoBot III has caused a stir because it has the potential to be self sustaining. The robot could independently refuel itself by processing waste material from its environment.
The processes used by the EcoBot III have the potential to be replicated on a larger scale. This means that sewage treatment plants could at some point be powered by the sewage being treated in the plant. Currently, the processes used by sewage treatment plants consume a large amount of energy. If the ideas and technology behind the EcoBot III were expanded to be functional on a larger scale, this would greatly reduce or eliminate the need for such processing plants to use electricity or other forms of energy.
The EcoBot III is currently able to operate without intervention for seven days in a row. The EcoBot III currently only uses 1 percent of the energy available from the waste that it consumes. The EcoBot III still has a long way to go before it can power an entire sewage treatment plant. However, the creation of this sustainable and energy efficient robot is a step in the right direction toward a more sustainable and energy efficient world.
[Image via scientificamerican.com]