Electricity from Bacteria and Wastewater

Posted on August 22, 2006  Comments (1)

Researchers harness the power of bacteria by Renee Meiller

In nature, says McMahon, photosynthetic bacteria effectively extract energy from their food — and microbial fuel cells capitalize on that efficiency. “By having the microbes strip the electrons out of the organic waste, and turning that into electricity, then we can make a process of conversion more efficient,” she says. “And they’re very good at doing that-much better than we are with our high-tech extraction methods.”

Through machinery such as plants, photosynthetic bacteria harvest solar energy. They also make products to power microbial fuel cells. “In many ways, this is the best of both worlds — generating electricity from a ‘free’ energy source like sunlight and removing wastes at the same time,” says Donohue. “The trick is to bring ideas from different disciplines to develop biorefineries and fuel cells that take advantage of the capabilities of photosynthetic bacteria.”

The benefit of using photosynthetic bacteria, he says, is that solar-powered microbial fuel cells can generate additional electricity when sunlight is available.

One Response to “Electricity from Bacteria and Wastewater”

  1. Khai Aun Wong
    June 8th, 2009 @ 8:18 am

    We often overlooked on the issue to utilize biological pathways for energy generation. Take for example an anaerobic digester whereby a simple reactor can be used to harness energy in the form of methane from breakdown of organic sludge matter using just microorganisms. Imagine how much this could contribute towards the environment and therefore we can actually avoid from burning of fossil fuels.

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