New battery uses microbes to turn sewage into energy



Agence France Presse

Published — Wednesday 18 September 2013

Last update 2 October 2013 1:13 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

WASHINGTON: US scientists may have found a new way to produce clean energy by way of dirty water, according to a new study out Monday.
The engineers have developed a more efficient method to use microbes to harness electricity from wastewater.
They hope their technique could be used in wastewater treatment facilities and to break down organic pollutants in the “dead zones” of oceans and lakes where fertilizer runoff has depleted oxygen, suffocating marine life.
However, for now the team from Stanford University have started small, with a prototype about the size of a D-cell battery, consisting of two electrodes — one positive and one negative — plunged into a bottle of wastewater, filled with bacteria.
As the bacteria consume the organic material, the microbes cluster around the negative electrode, throwing off electrons, which are captured in turn by the positive electrode.
“We call it fishing for electrons,” said environmental engineer Craig Criddle, one of the lead authors of the study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences (PNAS).
“You can see that the microbes make nanowires to dump off their excess electrons,” Criddle added.
Scientists have long known of microbes, dubbed exoelectrogenic, that live in airless environments and are capable of “breathing” oxide minerals, instead of oxygen, to generate energy.
Over the past dozen years, several research groups have tried different approaches for transforming these microbes into bio-generators — but it has proven difficult to harness this energy efficiently.
The researchers said their new model is simple, yet efficient, and can harness about 30 percent of the potential energy in the wastewater — about the same rate as commercially available solar panels.
There is far less energy potential available in wastewater than the sun’s rays, they concede, but say the process has an added benefit: it cleans the water. That means it could could be used to offset some of the energy currently being consumed to treat wastewater.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman prays inside the historic Quba Mosque in Madinah. The king was accompanied by Prince Muqrin, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and Prince Sultan bin Salman, ch...
JEDDAH: Shop rentals at certain malls have risen by 200 percent, with this cost likely to be passed on to the consumer, the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) said here recently. Muhammad Al-Shehri, chairman of the JCCI’s textiles and gar...
JEDDAH: People with special needs can now visit a park that has dedicated services for them.Jeddah Mayor Hani Abu Ras opened Al-Erada Park in Al-Salama district on Prince Sultan Street on Thursday.“The Kingdom provides special care for people with di...
JEDDAH: Is involvement in social media the right thing or wrong, particularly in the month of Ramadan? There is a difference of opinion with some arguing that it eats into the time that should be spent praying while some backing it for its religious...
RIYADH: The Argentine government has thanked the Kingdom for previously hosting its Umrah pilgrims for free.“They were part of a group invited by then Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” said Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda on Thursday.“T...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education’s counseling department has approved the Rifq Program for the physical and psychological well-being of students.Nabil Mohammad Al-Budair, director of counseling for boys, said the program aims to reduce violence in p...
RIYADH: Sales of fireworks at public markets and main roads in Riyadh have increased during Ramadan, despite the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announcing a SR5,000 reward for anyone providing information about warehouses storing these dangerous i...
RIYADH: The General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has reported that there were 69,241 work-related accidents in 2014, with expatriates making up 65,509 or 94.6 percent and Saudis 3,732.The accidents were in nine sectors with building and c...
JEDDAH: The Health Ministry’s expenditures over the past five years increased from SR29.29 billion to SR53.73 billion, an increase of about 83 percent.According to a study detailing the ministry’s expenditures between 2008 and 2012 issued by the mini...
RIYADH: Five people from the southern Indian state of Kerala were killed in a road accident at Salwa near Dammam in the Eastern Province early Thursday morning.Manoj Kumar, community welfare attache at the Indian Embassy, told Arab News that the vict...
MAKKAH: The government has deployed eight helicopters over Makkah to track the movement of vehicles and people, and assist in security tasks and medical evacuations.Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al-Harbi, commander of the Interior Ministry’s aviation security d...
JAZAN: A Yemeni woman (A.M.) has once again experienced freedom and a renewed sense of hope in life after reuniting with her family last week on her release from Jazan General Prison, where she spent six years on charges of murder of a citizen in the...
RIYADH: A delegation from the Kingdom recently visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to explore that country’s successful experience in tourism, in a bid to further develop the sector. Saudi Arabia has been making all-out efforts to promote tourism,...
RIYADH: The Justice Ministry has appointed 1,145 candidates for jobs in the judiciary and urged them to complete the requirements for their final appointment. The candidates in the sixth and fourth ranks are requested to fulfill employment prerequisi...
JEDDAH: Four thousand Djibouti workers are expected to arrive in the Kingdom over the next few months following the labor pact signed between the two countries last month.Speaking to a local publication recently, Djibouti Ambassador Diaa Eddin Saeed...

Stay Connected

Facebook