Bugs That Can Produce Electricity

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bug Power

Scientists have discovered that a particular bacterium can dispose of oil slicks, waste and in turn produce electricity. The bacteria naturally let off tiny charges through microscopic wires that stick through their cell walls after they dispose the waste.

Each organism on earth uses electricity in their body. However, the bacteria Shenawella oneidensis use their wires to discharge off the excess electricity produced, because the electricity build-up can stop their respiratory functions. These bacteria do not need energy rich fuel cells they make use of oil slicks and waste oil, degrade it and produce electricity. The scientists used a technique known as x-ray crystallography to understand the molecular structure of the proteins attached to the bacteria.

The researchers strongly feel that though it could take a long while till a way to use the bacteria as an energy source is developed; the knowledge about the structure of its wires can help them design electrodes to pick up charges. Another use of the bacteria can be to separate uranium from waste water that the nuclear plants discard.

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