This symbiotic system created by artist Gilberto Esparza re-imagines the management of sewage, in order to harness it as an energy source. It's also seriously metal.
"My Autophotosynthetic Plants take the form of a hybrid, self-regulating organism: part machine, part organic ecosystem," he explains. "It feeds on organisms found in the sewage water, in order to create its own light, energy and be self-sufficient."
Like most living organisms, these bio-mechanical beasts feature a central digestive system where bacteria feed on polluted water and transform it into cleaner water that can be used by the surrounding flora and fauna. Microorganisms, crustaceans and algae live together in the sphere, and a "nervous system" made of an electronic network monitors the activities of the organic parts.
"The bacteria come from the rivers in Lima, Peru, where the samples were taken. One of the bacteria commonly found in organic waste is the Geobacter which has been used in various studies to generate energy." In essence, these bacteria have their own fuel cells, which create light that can be harnessed by plants for photosynthesis. For years, scientists have been using Geobacter to clean up uranium-contaminated groundwater in Colorado mines.
The idea here is to implement the use of microbial cells in waste-water treatment plants to reduce the power required to run them – something Esparza is passionate about. "People don't like to talk about sewage," he says. "But all the research centres that are working with this technology have that possibility in mind."
Find out more about the project, and Esparza's previous work here.