Sunday, April 03, 2011
Microbe Power Grids
I recently found this article from the cool, super cool, way cool geobactor web site. It details about how microorganisms work together to transmit electricity from the bottom of a pile of mud to the top of the pile.
Why are you looking at me that way?
At any rate, I think this is uber-cool because it shows again how those little fellers can surprise us by doing stuff that one would normally associate with bigger critters; but also how microbes could be harnessed to generate power from things like sludge. Or mud.
There you go again with that look.
Another truly cool article goes on about how two species of microbe can work together to break down ethanol. Yeah, as Dr. Derek Lovely puts it "They're the ultimate drinking buddies, collaborating to consume ethanol." It has a sort of poetic justice to it: microbes create alcohol, here are a couple of species that collaborate in drinking it.
Silliness aside, being able to make a cheap, efficient fuel cell using ethanol has been a goal of scientists for quite some time. The idea is that you could make a "battery" for a lap top that could last for 10 hours at full power or perhaps store the power from a solar cell for periods when the sun isn't shining.
And yes, the idea of microbes boozing it up has a certain appeal.