Bacteria generate electricity from methane

bacteria
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Generating power while purifying the environment of greenhouse gases should be achievable using bacteria. In a new publication, microbiologists from Radboud University have demonstrated that it is possible to make methane-consuming bacteria generate power in the lab. The study will be published in Frontiers in Microbiology on April 12.

The , Candidatus methanoperedens, use to grow and naturally occur in such as ditches and lakes. In the Netherlands, the bacteria mostly thrive in locations where the surface and groundwater are contaminated with nitrogen, as they require nitrate to break down methane.

The researchers initially wanted to know more about the conversion processes occurring in the microorganism. In addition, they were also curious whether it would be possible to use it to generate power. "This could be very useful for the ," says microbiologist and author Cornelia Welte. "In the current biogas installations, methane is produced by microorganisms and subsequently burnt, which drives a turbine, thus generating power. Less than half of the biogas is converted into power, and this is the maximum achievable capacity. We want to evaluate whether we can do better using microorganisms."

A kind of battery

Fellow microbiologists from Nijmegen have previously shown that it is possible to generate power using that use ammonium during the process instead of methane. "The process in these bacteria is basically the same," says microbiologist Heleen Ouboter. "We create a kind of battery with two terminals, where one of these is a biological terminal and the other one is a chemical terminal. We grow the bacteria on one of the electrodes, to which the bacteria donate electrons resulting from the conversion of methane."

Through this approach, the researchers managed to convert 31 percent of the methane into electricity, but they aim at higher efficiencies. "We will continue focusing on improving the system," Welte says.

More information: Heleen T. Ouboter et al, Methane-Dependent Extracellular Electron Transfer at the Bioanode by the Anaerobic Archaeal Methanotroph "Candidatus Methanoperedens", Frontiers in Microbiology (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.820989

Journal information: Frontiers in Microbiology

Citation: Bacteria generate electricity from methane (2022, April 12) retrieved 18 June 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-bacteria-electricity-methane.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Microbes reduce methane coming from Amsterdam's canals

44 shares

Feedback to editors