Would it be possible, in principle, to create a machine that digests food in a similar way as humans do, extracts energy from the food, and stores it as electrical energy in a battery to power its own function? I understand this might be impractical or inefficient compared to other technologies, but I am just curious to know if it's something that can be done. (Not sure if I should ask here or on Chemistry Stack Exchange, really...)

  • \$\begingroup\$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomass#Electrochemical_conversion \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2020 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because as the OP speculates, Chemistry would be a far more appropriate site for this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Neil_UK
    Sep 5, 2020 at 6:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like you want to make the “flux capacitor” and its power supply. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 5, 2020 at 7:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Bio-gas plants might be more appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Sep 5, 2020 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can run diesel engines on vegetable oil. You can ferment corn syrup to alcohol to run a petrol engine. Both these are done large scale already. So, on one level, yes. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Sep 5, 2020 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


Here they seem to be working on robots which digest insects:

Domestic robots with a taste for flesh

But the robots also have a taste for flesh. They can gain energy by chomping on flies and mice, an idea inspired by researchers at Bristol Robotics Lab, UK, who built a fly-powered robot and have also suggested that marine robots could feed on plankton.

The pests are lured in and digested by an internal microbial fuel cell. This exploits the way microbes generate free electrons and hydrogen ions when oxidising chemicals for energy. Electronics can be powered by directing the electrons around an external circuit before reuniting them with the ions.

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17372-gallery-domestic-robots-with-a-taste-for-flesh/#ixzz6X9vuVDvi


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