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Thread: Electricity generation from bacteria

  1. #1 Electricity generation from bacteria 
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    I have heard about this technology a few times now - somehow electricity is generated from a population of bacteria, meaning that electricity could be generated efficiently from organic waste, or a bacteria cell could be implanted in a person, providing electricity for implants or somesuch thing by taking nourishment from blood. Anyway, does anyone have any idea how something like this would work?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    The bacteria are grown in a fuel cell on an anode, which is used as a terminal electron acceptor by the bacteria, literally generating electricity. This is possible because the electron transport chain is conducted on the surface of the bacterium. The main hurdle I'd imagine is keeping the bacteria alive since you would have to be limiting their ability to produce energy for themselves, and in a closed cell they would likely be stressed by acid production. Not all bacterial species will effectively transfer electrons to an anode, likely because of their morphology.


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  4. #3  
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    I thought something that might be the case, but that same problem with the impediment to the cells metabolism had be confused. Perhaps only the area that is closest to the anode is impeded? But then again, even that much sounds like it would kill the cell. From what I remember they still haven't figured a way to remove the waste products and stop the bacteria killing themselves.
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  5. #4  
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    some quick research shows that the first known attempt at such a fuel cell was done by M.C. Potter in 1911, so it's hardly a new idea.

    however, even a 660 gallon fuel cell available to businesses today is of little use in producing electricity, making only 2 kilowatts. more importantly such a fuel cell creates clean water as a byproduct when the energy source for the fuel cell is added.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbial_fuel_cell

    edit* It is far from inconceivable that many if not all of the problems we have expressed here could be solved using biotechnology to engineer a bacterium with traits ideal for use in such a fuel cell.
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