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Monday, July 21, 2014

Some species of bacteria feed on electricity, are they the future of biomachines?

Image: nobeastsofierce/Shutterstock
Electric bacteria 'eat' electricity. So far researchers have found that Shewanella and Geobacterlove to feast on electric power, and they are searching for more species.
As shocking as this diet may sound, microbiologist Kenneth Nealson from the University of Southern California in the US thinks this shouldn’t come as a surprise as life is basically a flow of electrons. He told New Scientist: “Life’s very clever… It figures out how to suck electrons out of everything we eat and keep them under control.”
These astute bacteria source their electrons from minerals. And if we were to compare them to humans it would be the equivalent of us shoving our fingers in a DC electrical socket to recharge, Nealson told New Scientist.
Nealson and his team have hooked bacteria to electrodes in the lab to see how the microbes work. Harnessing the power of these bacteria could lead to the development of self-powered devices and biomachines that can clean contaminated groundwater and sewage.
See how they work:

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