Bacteria that generate significant amounts of electricity could be used in microbial fuel cells to provide power in remote environments or to convert waste to electricity. Professor Derek Lovley from the University of Massachusetts isolated bacteria with large numbers of tiny projections called pili which were more efficient at transferring electrons to generate power in fuel cells than bacteria with a smooth surface. The team's findings were reported at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. “Putting Microbes to Work” is the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn conference at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh on 7 - 10 September 2009. The researchers isolated a strain of Geobacter sulfurreducens which they called KN400 that grew prolifically on the graphite anodes of fuel cells. The bacteria formed a thick biofilm on the anode surface, which conducted electricity. The researchers found large quantities of pilin, a protein that makes the tiny fibres that conduct electricity through the sticky biofilm. "The filaments form microscopic projections called pili that act as microbial nanowires," said Professor Lovley, "using this bacterial strain in a fuel cell to generate electricity would greatly increase the cell's power output." The pili on the bacteria's surface seemed to be primarily for electrical conduction rather than to help them to attach to the anode; mutant forms without pili were still able to stay attached. Microbial fuel cells can be used in monitoring devices in environments where it is difficult to replace batteries if they fail but to be successful they need to have an efficient and long-lasting source of power. Professor Lovley described how G. sulfurreducens strain KN400 might be used in sensors placed on the ocean floor to monitor migration of turtles. The paper “Microbial fuel cells” by Professor Derek Lovley was presented on Monday 7 September at the Society for General Microbiology Autumn Meeting at Heriot-Watt University.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Male Or Female? 180 Million Years Ago, It Was Less Clear
- Condensed Matter Physics Pitches In To Help Quantum Gravity
- Kepler - Young Earth Creationist
- A better than 50/50 chance Kepler-186f has technological life.
- Bio-Duck? What Is That Mysterious Sound In The Southern Ocean?
- Pain Curbs Sex Drive In Female Mice, But Not In Males
- Liquid Spacetime - The Fluid Flow Of General Relativity?
- "Also, by the way, Tesla's radio patent was commingled with his first patented Remote Piloted Vehicle..."
- "Now, now, he is the guy who bought Paypal and then named himself a co-founder. Surely he can solve..."
- "Hontas you are probably right. In the 1960s I was dismayed when it came to light that more people..."
- "I'm not ready to put the future of life in the Solar System in the hands of Elon Musk. I'm..."
- "If such a thing would've ever existed the program would've fallen to budget cuts and the goa'uld..."
- Genetics explain why some boys and girls are bigger than others
- Death rates from pancreatic cancer predicted to rise in Europe in 2014
- Low birth weight, less breastfeeding create later health risks
- It's a bubble, but not as we know it
- The Lancet Global Health: Recurrent violence linked to substantially higher rates of mental disorders in post-conflict communiti