How Much Beer Would it Take to Power Bender?

Bender subsists on beer. But if he's using a fuel cell that runs on methanol, he's going to have drink a whole lot of it.

Comedy Central

In the world of Futurama, Bender runs not on batteries, but on beer. Which is why he’s always drunk. Using alcohol as energy for the fuel cell that likely runs his humanoid robot self, Bender stays upright by pounding brews.

Is that possible? Yep. Methanol fuel cells are totally a thing. When it comes to Bender, the question isn’t whether or not Bender could technically run on beer, it’s how much he’d have to drink. You know, provided he had a way to extract the methanol from the beer. And even then, he’s going to drink a lot of beer. So much, in fact, that “a lot” is a pretty gross understatement.

First, a disclaimer: There’s a lot of variation in methanol fuel cells. But, we’re going to figure out how much beer Bender would have to drink to get a liter’s worth of methanol. Which should keep him going for, um, well, not terribly long, given that he probably consumes quite a bit of energy to stay standing — he’s a walking, talking, thinking humanoid robot, after all. They don’t exactly run on AAA’s.

If we’re basing this on the consumption of beer, its important to note there isn’t much methanol in beer. It’s a byproduct of fermentation, and it occurs in very, very low levels. Bender would be best off with an ethanol fuel cell, but those are still developing and we don’t have great figures for that. Yet. So methanol it is.

There’s about 2-3mg/L of mash or 0.1ml (measured based on home-brewed beer), which is, well, not a lot. The “maximum advisory intake” for methanol per day is 600 mg — which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 liters in the best case scenario for Bender (worst case for humans).

But based on a lethal dose of methanol (100ml) (or somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 mg of methanol), we’re going to need 27,000 liters of mash. For 100 ml.

For a full liter? 2,700,000 liters. That’s a whole goddamn lot of beer.

Bender is better off with something that’s a little higher in the ABV department. Like, say, vodka. If that were the case, he’d probably only need around 70 liters for 100ml. But that’s still 700 liters for a single liter of methanol.

Yeah, we now understand why Bender’s wasted all the time.

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