Electrical Bacteria

The natural world never ceases to amaze me. This is especially true of the the single-celled organisms around us. For example, on March 5, 2019, scientists at Washington State University described the first collection of a type of bacteria that eats and breathes electricity.

The site was the Heart Lake Geyser Basin area of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. Researchers collected the organisms by inserting a few electrodes into the edge of the water in a hot spring that ranged in temperature from 110 to nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Thirty-two days later, the electrodes were retrieved; they had attracted the bacteria.

So what?

Bacteria are some of the most diverse and adaptable organisms in our environment, frequently living under harsh conditions and using a wide range of sources for energy. Perhaps these bacteria could generate electricity for us? Maybe even convert pollution to electricity? Granted, they’re small and this application requires much more research, but one can imagine the day when a canister of these tiny creatures could be powering our homes, possibly to augment our solar panels and wind turbines.

This would be something Buck Rogers never saw coming.

Taken from “These bacteria eat and breathe electricity” by Paul Scott Anderson (https://earthsky.org/earth/scientists-study-bacteria-that-eat-and-breathe-electricity?). The photo came from that site.

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