Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacterial batteries clean up

18.01.2002


The sea bed could be one big battery.
© Almay


Researchers name the microbes that could produce power by munching pollution.

Bacteria could clear up oil spills and generate electricity at the same time. US scientists have identified microbes that produce power as they digest organic waste1.

The bacteria strip electrons from carbon in ocean sediments to convert it into the carbon dioxide they need for metabolism and growth. Usually the organisms just dump the electrons onto iron or sulphate minerals on the ocean floor.



But the bugs will just as happily pile electrons onto one electrode of an electrical circuit. As researchers at Oregon State University in Corvallis discovered early last year, you can make a battery by planting an electrode in sea-floor sediments and leaving the other in the sea water above2.

This discovery raised hopes that the seabed might be exploited as a natural low-level power source for the equipment that monitors water current and temperature, which is widely used to guide navigation.

The Oregon team knew that the electrical energy was coming from microorganisms, but they didn’t know which creatures were involved. Now Derek Lovley of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and colleagues have identified the culprits by making sediment batteries in the laboratory and analysing the bacteria clustered on one of the electrodes. The organisms belong to the family Geobacteraceae.

Lovley’s team also found that some freshwater-dwelling members of the family can do the same thing. These might be put to work in aquifers contaminated by oil or sewage, Lovley suggests.

Freshwater Geobacteraceae can break down petroleum in polluted groundwater on their own, but are often hampered by the lack of sufficient electron acceptors (such as the iron minerals). By providing these bacteria with an electrode that carts the electrons away, researchers could help bioremediation to proceed - and can capture a little electricity into the bargain.

References

  1. Bond, D. R., Holmes, D. E., Tender, L. M. & Lovley, D. R. Electrode-reducing microorganisms that harvest energy from marine sediments. Science, 295, 483 - 485, (2002).
  2. Reimers, C. E., Tender, L. M., Fertig, S. & Wang, W. Title. Environmental Science & Technology, 35, 192 - 95, (2001).


PHILIP BALL | © Nature News Service

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>