World Bulletin / News Desk
Microbes used to treat human waste might also generate enough electricity to power whole sewage plants, scientists hope.
The technology is based on the relatively new science of electro-microbiology that is finding uses for the discovery that certain microbes can generate an electrical current outside their own cells.
In the context of sewage treatment, they would purify waste water by consuming the organic matter in it and use that energy to generate a current that can be harvested and stored.
Co-author of the research, published in the U.S. journal Science, Bruce Logan of Pennsylvania State University, compared the process he is developing to the movie The Matrix, where humans are hooked up to machines to provide electrical power.
"In our article we describe a process which is somewhat like that but what we do is use certain micro-organisms which can be connected to devices to generate an electrical current that can be used togenerate power," Logan said.
An estimated 3 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is used to run waste water treatment plants and at least 5 percent goes into the whole water infrastructure, said Logan, adding: "That's clearly not sustainable."
Logan says the technique, still in its infancy, has sparked interest from companies including Siemens and General Electric, as well as a number of small startup firms.
There are some major hurdles, including the high cost of making the devices needed and improving their efficiency and power capacity.
"Right now it's a bit expensive," Logan said.
"What we really need to do is get the cost of the materials down and start putting the technology out into practice and that takes other things than just science and engineering. It takes political will and funding."
The same technique could see microbes used to generate biofuels, hydrogen gas, methane and other valuable chemicals from the cheap and abundant product of our trips to the bathroom, say Logan and fellow researcher Korneel Rabaey from the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Researchers havfe said that the flaw leaves data stored by apps vulnerable with almost every category of app considered vulnerable
SpaceX revealed Monday that it is building a test track for the Hyperloop, a concept for ultra-fast ground transport the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, unveiled.
Biologists have created chicken embryos with dinosaur-like faces by tinkering with the molecules that build the birds' beaks.
Product available for pre-order in nine countries but devices won’t ship for weeks.
Nobel Prize-winning scientists' discovery can be manufactured cheaper thanks to Nanografi process.
Most industry experts expect the first product of 5G technology in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions
The discovery challenges currently held theories that black holes and their host galaxies grew in relative lockstep over the eons.
Australian researchers are developing the new way to have a final product for Boeing Co, Airbus Group NV, very quickly than now. 3D printing can cut production times for components from three months to just six days.
Bogachev is charged in the United States with running a computer attack network called GameOver Zeus that allegedly stole more than $100 million from online bank accounts.
The account started sharing videos and photos of the militant group a few days ago
U.S., UK spies hacked SIM card maker Gemalto's system, Intercept says, giving spies ability to monitor calls on billions of phones
The next time an earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest, a handful of computers in offices across the region will have access to a software that will send out an alarm, alerting people before the earthquake strikes.
Researchers in Britain have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher than spider silk.
Epigenetic differences are one reason identical twins, who have identical DNA, do not always develop the same genetic diseases, including cancer.