CommUnity Post

E-Nerds: Futurama

Blog Post created by CommUnity Post Partner on 11-Jul-2018

The E-Nerds article series takes a 'serious' look at scientific claims in fiction stories in popular culture, such as the physics, chemistry, or logic behind what occurs on-screen in a playful manner, by looking through the lens of an Engineer at such claims. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not reflect those of the CommUnity Post nor of the CommUnity by InnoEnergy; furthermore, the first-hand testing of these claims is not recommended. Let us know what you think about these articles and if you'd like to see more in the comments section. Enjoy!


Photo Credits: Matt Groening - ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox


Bender drinks beer almost all day.


Bender Bending Rodriguez Sr.--aka Bender--is not just any robot, he is one of the few prototypes of the Futurama universe that still runs on beer in the year 3000. Unfortunately, his shape does not allow him to be highly efficient and the countless viruses accumulated in his 12TB memory do not help. While the robot world has evolved to nuclear reactors, the 'old' Bender model is still based on fuel cells, which makes him particularly backward compared to newer and more innovative models. Moreover, this leads him to an interminable beer addiction and the problem of feeling drunk when he is thirsty.


"So sober… So weak" Cit. Bender


But he does not give up on life. After being almost completely discarded due to his malfunctioning, he has now reinvented his life and he works as an assistant manager of sales at Planet Express and as an entertainer to the masses.


How is it possible to create a robot like this?


Bender works thanks to a fuel cell capable of transforming ethanol into electricity to power the robot himself. These types of fuel cells already exist today, although they are still in the research stage. Today’s researchers believe fuel cells to be able to reach 80% efficiency, similar to other fuel cell technologies. In order to carry out the calculation that follows, a 40% efficiency will be considered, as both the old circuits and the poor performances of the robot systems would highly affect this system.


For this reason Groening’s main character is forced by its old age to drink more than in his youth and above all, to drink much more than the other robots to produce the same amount of energy.


Just how much ‘fuel’ does Bender have to drink?


According to statements extracted from the same series, his consumption of beer is "enough to make a human constantly intoxicated" or rather, "almost enough to kill a person". For this reason, it can be estimated that a common person needs around 8 L of regular 3% alcohol beer to get 'extremely inebriated' and nearly die, and at least one litre of beer per hour to keep the alcohol levels constant. Therefore, in a day he probably drinks 24 L, totalling a yearly consumption of 8760 litres. Amounts of consumption that would kill a human in no time!


This does not mean that Bender cannot feel the effects of alcohol himself, on the contrary, his fame in the robot world comes from when he drank a full keg of beer (more or less 58 Litres) and got drunk at the University of Mars.


Given his outdated hardware system, it would be possible for him to achieve, at maximum, half of the efficiency of an up-to-date system, so he will get about 30 mL of ethanol per litre of beer. Considering the various inefficiencies of Bender's systems, the amount of alcohol consumed turns into just under 1.8 kWh per day as the low heating value (LHV) for the ethanol is 6.28 kWh/L. His average power for its functioning will therefore be 750W, which equals a powerful home computer. Interestingly enough, this value is also very similar to what is required for a human.


Although this quantity is quite low, it can easily allow all the needs of the robot to work and survive the day!


 by Jacopo Sala

The CommUnity Post


CommUnity Post Review Team: Irena Dukovska, Tara Trafton, and Rudolph Santarromana


More about Jacopo Sala:

Nerd inside, Pirate English lover and geek for fun, I dream one day to win an IgNobel. In my spare time I am a 3rd generation PV enthusiast and a circular economy supporter.