Regular readers know that algae is a potential source of energy (and many other things), and in other small-life form news some researchers have found that bacteria can be used as a battery.
WorldChanging has all you want to know about bacteria batteries.
The system’s active ‘ingredients’ are a combination of tiny microbes and CO2. Placed under an electrical current – for example from an off-grid renewable power source such as wind or solar – the microbes convert the CO2 into methane. Professor Bruce Logan, head of the research team, explains that they work in a similar way to the natural process found in marshes.
He suggests that the initial carbon dioxide needed for the chemical reaction could even come from industrial sources: “CO2 is soluble in water, so the gas stream could be bubbled or transferred” in pipes from factories, for example. The ‘battery’ is designed to work as a closed loop, capturing and reusing the CO2 that’s released when the methane is burned.
Readers of ThingsAreGood know that bacteria can make dangerous heavy metals a lot less dangerous. Now scientists have found out how the bacteria can eat away at uranium with no harm done to it.
“Assembling a battery of evidence, scientists have for the first time placed the bacterial enzymes responsible for converting uranium to uraninite at the scene of the slime, or “extracellular polymeric substance” (EPS), according to a study led by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in today’s advance online edition of PLoS Biology.”
Even after reading the article I’m still confused about how this actually works.
Nuclear power inherently wants to kill us with its radiation, well now we can use the power of nature to fight the evils of harnessing radioactive power! Researchers have found a bacteria that eats away at uranium, which means that places like old uranium mines and weapons enrichment facilities will have less long-term damage on the environment.
“”Toxic uranium is often found in groundwater at places where uranium was either mined or enriched to make weapons,” said Craig Criddle, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. “This uranium-contaminated water can migrate into surface waters, where it becomes a threat to organisms and water supplies. Excavation of contaminated soil or pumping and treating the water are prohibitively expensive and lead to additional disposal issues. An alternative is to stimulate naturally occurring subsurface microorganisms that can convert the dissolved uranium into a solid form that is not susceptible to transport by water.”
The ethanol stimulated growth of subterranean microbial populations that converted the uranium into an immobile form. After treatment, high levels of uranium remained on the soil, but the groundwater contained almost no uranium. Analysis of the soil-bound uranium confirmed that it was largely converted into the immobile form.”
Now, if we can only convince people to stop using nukes.