Inexpensive Bacteria-Driven Battery Developed
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FOOD SCRAPS TO POWER BACTERIA-DRIVEN BATTERY
Reuters / Planet Ark
Friday, October 11, 2002
LONDON - Food scraps once consigned to the compost heap -- or the dog --
could soon be powering a cheap bacteria-driven battery if British scientists
have their way.
Researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol have
developed a microbial fuel cell about the size of a mobile phone that could
be powered by organic household waste.
"Right now, their fuel cell runs only on sugar cubes, since these produce
almost no waste when broken down, but they aim to move on to carrot power,"
New Scientist magazine said this week.
Chris Melhuish and his team are using the cell to run a small
light-sensitive robot but they said when a series of the cells are connected
they could run domestic appliances.
The bacteria-driven cell, which would cost about 10 pounds ($15), directly
converts biochemical energy into electricity. It uses E.coli bacteria to
break down carbohydrates and release hydrogen atoms.
"The cell also contains chemicals that drive a series of redox, reduction
and oxidation reactions, stripping electrons from the hydrogen atoms and
delivering them steadily to the fuel cell's anode. This creates a voltage
that can be used to power a circuit," the magazine said.
Melhuish and his team said their organic battery can produce eight times as
much energy as other microbial fuel cells.
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