Verde Environmental Consultants & Oil Leak Clean Up Specialists Scientists Capture Bacteria That Eat Pollution and Breathe Electricity – Verde – Complete Environmental Solutions
/ blog / Scientists Capture Bacteria That Eat Pollution and Breathe Electricity

Scientists Capture Bacteria That Eat Pollution and Breathe Electricity

In Yellowstone National Park, lies the Heart Lake Geyser Basin. This area is home to pools of hot water, ranging from about 110 to nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, that carry some very impressive bacteria that eat pollution and breathe electricity.

Now, Washington State University’s (WSU) Abdelrhman Mohamed and colleagues have captured these microorganisms straight from their source to study them.  “This was the first time such bacteria were collected in situ in an extreme environment like an alkaline hot spring,” said Mohamed.  His interest in the bacteria went beyond academic pursuits. The microbes may hold the key to solving the problems of pollution and energy demand that plague us today.

Eating pollution

Why? Because these specific microorganisms can literally eat pollution. They do this by turning toxic pollutants into less harmful substances and generating electricity in the process.

“As these bacteria pass their electrons into metals or other solid surfaces, they can produce a stream of electricity that can be used for low-power applications,” said Haluk Beyenal, Paul Hohenschuh Distinguished Professor in the Gene.

Collecting these microbes was no easy task. Mohamed and his colleagues had to leave a few electrodes in the edge of the extremely hot water, hoping the bacteria would come out of hiding. To achieve this, Mohamed invented a cheap portable and highly heat resistant potentiostat. A potentiostat is an electronic device required to control a three-electrode cell.

The researchers then left the electrodes in the water for 32 days. In the end, the experiment proved worthwhile succeeding in capturing the bacteria in their natural and optimum environment. “The natural conditions found in geothermal features such as hot springs are difficult to replicate in laboratory settings,” said Beyenal. “So, we developed a new strategy to enrich heat-loving bacteria in their natural environment.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have used bacteria to generate energy. Other experiments have seen bacteria combined with sewage to produce electricity, while others have resulted in microbes that can create energy-packed rings.

Could the key to solving both our energy and pollution crises truly lie in these microorganisms? Time will tell.

The WSU team, in collaboration with colleagues from Montana State University, published their research “In situ enrichment of microbial communities on polarized electrodes deployed in alkaline hot springs” in the Journal of Power Sources.

Source – Interesting Engineering

Verde Environmental Consultants provide expert advisory, monitoring and assessment services from our offices in Wicklow, Cork, Mayo and Galway in soilairwaterwasteenergynoise and ecology disciplines

Our multidisciplinary approach and in-house expertise allows us to provide a breadth of relevant environmental consultancy and contracting services to both the private and public sectors. Our focus is on the delivery of relevant and quality advice to our clients that addresses their issues quickly in clear and plain language.

To ensure our results make business sense, our approach is to first understand our clients needs and then to provide practical and innovative advice that ensures environmental quality and makes a valued contribution to their business performance.

Top