Researchers Advance Development of Organic Batteries
Researchers have found that they can create an electrical current when proteins on the surface of bacteria (like shewanella oneidensis, shown here) touch a mineral surface. The research shows that it is possible to develop microbial fuel cells. (Source: University of East Anglia/Alice Dohnalkova)
This one is a new one on me, Elizabeth. Like the Matrix, only the slaves are bacteria. I wonder if this will start a "free bacteria" movement. Others may argue that creating electricity may give meaning to the life of individual bacterium.
Ha, Rob, yes, it's quite an interesting development, isn't it? Not something I would have come up with, but that's why I'm a writer and not a scientist. It is quite interesting and I wonder if it could have any implications in the future for the treatment of bacteria-related illnesses or other applications.
I agree, Elizabeth, it will be interesting to see if there are further developments with the use of bacteria. A lot of new technology seems to be coming out of the natural world or being inspired by the natural world. Growing algae as an energy source, modeling robot movements on insect movement -- these are just a couple recent examples. There's a zillion.
I think that's a valid concern, naperlou, but I'm sure the designers of the battery and the scientists doing the research would hopefully have a way to prevent such a thing from happening! Could make the plot of a good scifi film, though!
Napelou, I also wonder a bit about the "unintended consequences" that could result. A similar problem exists with those imported fish that got into the Mississippi river a few years back and are now threatening to decimate the existing fih in the great lakes. Somebody starts something with out considering the potential for damages, and with no precautions taken, one small error and the damage is done, and in some cases the damage is irreparable and quite extreme. And now, in the case of the fish, our stupid government officials are dragging their feet about taking any real steps to prevent additional damage.
In the case of power generating bacteria it would certainly be handy to know how to destroy it quickly if ever there was a spill, and we can be certain that there will be a spill if the technology does work as well as anticipated.
It seems that would be the case, tekochip. It says that "electricity could be generated by the breakdown of domestic or agriculural waste products." Sounds like a variation on Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future.
I also wonder if you could vary teh amount of electricity generated by the kind of food fed to them.
@Gorski, I think it would be too early to predict the effect of food being fed on the amount of electricity generated by them. But I think we can vary the amount of electricity generated by using different minerals and metals.
It would be interesting if you could recharge the cells by simply adding food to the cells.
@Recharge, some of the bacterias can make their own food from sunlight, just like plants. Some of these bacteria can live off unusual "foods" such as iron or sulfur. So it would be interesting to see what kind of bacteria is being used for this experiement.
Are these batteries anything like the "biocell" batteries that we heard about back in the 1970's? I know that there is some valid means to recover electrical energyu from the biological digestion process but I have no idea how similar the different processes may be, or not. But it does seem that some sort of organicly fueled battery could be useful, unless it uses a custom fuel type that is expensive. But a generation mechanism that could be powered by dead leaves and grass clippings would be a real prize winner.
I am not familiar with those, William K, but I wouldn't be surprised if that research was a precursor to this. It seems like a lot of these ideas are borrowed or have evolved from similar ones from previous generations. Agreed that if they could really make the organic formula user-friendly, then this could definitely be a winner.
Hi, AnandY, the bacteria used in the experiment, or at least one of them, was shewanella oneidensis. I don't know enough about it to know if it is the type that can make its own food or how it feeds...perhaps you do?
@Elizabeth, thanks for the post. Its fascinating to know that electrical current can be generated by touching proteins on the surface of bacteria to a mineral surface. What kind of metal or mineral was used for this experiment ?