Latest Issue of Science News


Sweet-toothed microbe tapped for power

A whip-tailed bacterium wrenches electrons from sugars so effectively that researchers have harnessed the organism to make an extraordinarily efficient fuel cell.

As many fuel cells do, this tabletop device includes two membrane-separated chambers, each one containing an electrode immersed in an aqueous solution. To one chamber, Swades K. Chaudhuri and Derek R. Lovley of the University of Massachusetts–Amherst added the bacterium Rhodoferax ferrireducens. The microbes pump more than 80 percent of the glucose's removable electrons from the chamber's liquid into an electric circuit, the scientists report in the October Nature Biotechnology.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.