Jul 29, 2016
Posted by Shailesh Prasad in categories: biological, habitats, robotics/AI
A lot of things are becoming “smart” these days, but bricks might not be something you’d expect to be added to the list. On the way to buildings that act like “large-scale living organisms,” scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are developing smart bricks that would make use of microbes to recycle wastewater, generate electricity and produce oxygen.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which will be embedded in the bricks to give them their “smart” capabilities, have proven handy in the past, with researchers demonstrating how they can be used to generate electricity from human urine, dead flies or just plain old mud.
“Microbial fuel cells are energy transducers that exploit the metabolic activity of the constituent microbes to break down organic waste and generate electricity,” says Ioannis Ieropoulos, professor at UWE Bristol’s Robotics Laboratory. “This is a novel application for MFC modules to be made into actuating building blocks as part of wall structures. This will allow us to explore the possibility of treating household waste, generating useful levels of electricity, and have ‘active programmable’ walls within our living environments.”