Bacteria use hydrogen, carbon dioxide to produce electricity

May 20, 2013

Researchers have engineered a strain of electricity-producing bacteria that can grow using hydrogen gas as its sole electron donor and carbon dioxide as its sole source of carbon. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst report their findings at the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

"This represents the first result of current production solely on hydrogen," says Amit Kumar, a researcher on the study who, along with his co-authors are part of the Lovley Lab Group at the university.

Under the leadership of Derek Lovley the lab group has been studying Geobacter bacteria since Lovley first isolated Geobacter metallireducens in sand sediment from the Potomac River in 1987. Geobacter species are of interest because of their , bioenergy potential, novel electron transfer capabilities, the ability to transfer electrons outside the cell and transport these electrons over long distances via conductive filaments known as microbial nanowires.

Kumar and his colleagues studied a relative of G. metallireducens called Geobacter sulfurreducens, which has the ability to produce electricity by reducing compounds with a graphite electrode like or gold to serve as the sole electron acceptor. They genetically engineered a strain of the bacteria that did not need organic carbon to grow in a microbial fuel cell.

"The adapted strain readily produced electrical current in with as the sole electron donor and no organic carbon source," says Kumar, who notes that when the hydrogen supply to the microbial fuel cell was intermittently stopped electrical current dropped significantly and cells attached to the electrodes did not generate any significant current.

Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

Related Stories

Making more efficient fuel cells

Sep 07, 2009

Bacteria that generate significant amounts of electricity could be used in microbial fuel cells to provide power in remote environments or to convert waste to electricity. Professor Derek Lovley from the University of Massachusetts, ...

Recommended for you

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance?

Oct 24, 2014

On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, ...

UK wind power share shows record rise

Oct 24, 2014

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power ...

Global boom in hydropower expected this decade

Oct 24, 2014

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce ...

User comments : 0