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How Much Beer Does Futurama’s Bender Need To Survive A Day?

Beer plays a vital part in the life of Matt Groening’s & David X. Cohen’s 31st century Planet Express delivery crew. In their world of Futurama, the one and only Bender Bending Rodríguez Sr. runs not on any kind of battery, but on beer. Which is why designated Bending Unit 22 is seemingly always drunk.

Was it just a prank played by the guys and his creators from Tijuana that made Bender drink copious amounts of alcohol to recharge his fuel cells or is pounding brews a real possibility?

Direct methanol fuel cells are already available in our century, but when it comes to Bender aka the Pharaoh from planet Osiris IV the question isn’t whether or not Bender could technically run on beer, it’s how much he’d have to drink — provided he’d be able to extract the methanol from the beer in the first place… and yes, in order to extract the right amount of methanol, Bender would have to drink massive amounts of beer.

Let’s skip the part where we need to argue what kind of methanol fuel cells Bender is working on, let’s just try to figure out how much beer Bender would have to drink to get a liter’s worth of his methanol.

Based on the consumption of beer, it’s important to note there actually isn’t much methanol in beer. It’s a mere byproduct of fermentation, occurring in extremely low levels. The guys from Tijuana should have equipped Bender with an ethanol fuel cell, but those are still developing, and unless you’re living in Sweden where you could get your very own state guaranteed parking space if you’re driving on ethanol, there are no great figures for that.

In Methanol, though, there’s about 2–3mg/L of mash or 0.1ml (measured based on home-brewed beer) — that’s not an awful lot. The “maximum advisory intake” for methanol per day is 600 mg — which roughly equals 200 liters of beer to drink.

In order to go ‘fully lethal’ to power the good ol’ bending unit, you probably need 27,000 liters of mash for 100 ml…

For a full liter of methanol, we’d be talking 2,700,000 liters of beer, roughly speaking, of course.

To that effect, Bender would be way better off with something that’s a little higher on alcohol by volume… like a great single malt, some ferocious homebrew, or even better, Vodka. In that case, Bender could also keep on burping fire, by only needing around 70 liters for 100ml.

Yes, that’s still 700 liters to drink for a single liter of methanol… However, isn’t that what we’d expect from a guy that has also stolen his best friend Fry’s kidney ;)

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