Since childhood, you might have considered urine as waste product and it was. However, as the world evolves and scientists develop new ideas, much changes than as we know it. In exactly the same way, researchers have found a way to utilize human pee to power devices. Not just any devices at that, but robots!
The invention was crafted collectively by scientists at the University of Bristol and University of the West of England. They have named the robot “EcoBot”, clearly centered on its environment friendly motive. This hasn’t been the first achievement by these researchers. Over a period of ten years they have made four EcoBots that work on different power sources, all of them more unique than the other. They started off with rotten fruit, then moved onto more unconventional sources like sludge or dead flies but now have trumped onto the most distinctive of fuels-urine.
The newest EcoBot’s power generating component is what is boasted as an artificial heart with makes use of shape memory alloy to give an effect of heart muscles. The pump tightens or relaxes to send urine into MFCs (Microbial Fuel Cells) that digest the pee to make current out of it. The electricity made is then stored into an electric capacitor. After which the capacitor discharges and the shape memory alloy returns to its original shape. This completes one cycle of the robots energy system. On completion the pump’s muscles are in a relax position which causes a draw of more urine into the MFCs, starting another fuel-making cycle to power this self-sustaining device.
Nevertheless, more important than their invention now is the role they will play in the future. For now the might just be a cool thing to look at but their implementations can be vast. One of the mostly majorly discussed role they could play is in waste monitoring tasks, as they can be sent to monitor humidity, water levels or temperature. Of course, that means sending in an entire fleet of them rather than just a few to cover entire cities. Whereas powering them is simple, such as from public urinals, which also emphasized their importance in environment protection and fuel management.
We are seeing the future we have seen in movies happen right before our eyes. It might not be long before we are used to tiny robots like the EcoBots walking in the streets, cleaning them up!