Across the globe, access to clean water and renewable sources of energy are in constant demand and we have curated a slew of interesting solutions. But Ohio-based Pilus Energy has engineered a new, multi pronged approach to these problems with a group of bacterial robots, or “BactoBots” that remediate human and animal waste by turning the sewage into electricity, biogas, and water.
According to Pilus Energy, nearly 1,100 terawatts of energy are currently stored in our wastewater. This is enough to power over 275 million homes annually. Developed countries continue to spend huge amounts of money and energy transporting and treating waste through traditional methods, which uses up around two percent of all global energy. Using their proprietary BactoBots, the company is able to metabolize compounds in the sludge to create electricity and biogas. The Bots are self-terminating so that they cannot spread into the environment or be stolen. GeRM keys added to the feedstock allow the Bots to live and work, and then naturally destroy themselves when the keys are not present.
The BactoBots are engineered to be housed inside a fuel cell. Waste is added in one end, and the main chamber allows the Bots to anaerobically metabolize organic compounds and turn them into electrons and hydrogen ions. The electrons travel outside the cell to either power homes and devices, or to meet up with protons to create water, methane, and isoprene that can be used to fabricate synthetic rubber. With their technology, a device no bigger than a 40-foot shipping container could potentially treat the waste for an entire village in a developing nation.
Pilus hopes that their methods of treatment will help reduce the globe’s carbon footprint as well as provide clean water, efficient means of generating renewable energy, and economic independence. They are working towards a $50,000 goal through Indiegogo so that they can scale up their system for the EPA’s Testing and Evaluation facility in Cincinnati.
Images via Pilus Energy and Wikicommons user palintest