Sunday, September 05, 2010

BYBS: Geobacter

The Geobacter Project is about
  • Using electricity to create fuels via bacteria
  • Using fuels to create electricity via bacteria
This is a gross simplification of the details, but it is about how people used their cleverness for making the world a better place instead of blowing each other up or causing a financial collapse.

Geobacter is about using naturally existing bacteria (for example, one was taken from the mud in a river outside of Washington DC) that have the ability to convert certain chemicals directly into electrical energy.  What's more, they do this with very good (50%+) efficiency.  What is even more interesting is that you can also use bacteria to convert electrical power directly into fuel or other useful chemicals. 

A common problem with renewable energy is that if you have a surplus at one point in time (say during the day) you cannot easily and efficiently store it.  There are schemes for doing this, such as batteries or using the energy to pump water uphill for later power generation, these sorts of approaches tend to be inconvenient or wasteful.  Batteries require a lot of space, for example, and pumped storage really requires the power generation site to be located near the reservoir.

If, and this is a big if, something like the Geobacter Project turns out to be feasible on a large scale, then it countries like the USA could become more energy independent.  Furthermore, the process consumes as much carbon dioxide as it produces, so it is fairly environmentally friendly.

While the promise of something like this is good, the fact that people are capable of directing their ingenuity towards making the world a better place is the real blessing.


Tanis said...

I don't fully understand the ins and outs of the potential of this idea, but I think it's a super awesome concept (from what I do understand). What I really wanted to say was that I'm so very happy that you are blogging again :) I know that it can be a pain in the butt, and I know that sometimes the last thing on earth you want to do when you're super busy with other more important things is sit down and put something down in writing, but I'm so glad that you do :) Having gone through your blog and read every single entry (I may not remember what they all were, so hopefully there's not a quiz), I want you to know that when I'm having an especially crappy day, I like to pull up your posts on Fred D. Krab and the eeeeeeevil genius (that I believe is Nerts) and read through the Deathtalker stories, because they make me smile.
Thank you.

Whatever said...

I'm glad that my rants, mumblings and insane blather could shed some light on your day :-)

This blog has completely morphed away from what I thought it would be when I started it. Mind you, I didn't have a clear idea of what it would be when I started it.

These days I blog to remind myself of things that I think are good about the world --- hence I keep doing the whole BYBS thing.