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.
Saturn has more than 60 moons, and Cassini has made new discoveries on some of them, which may have conditions suitable for a form of life.
Facebook is looking at creating "silent-speech interfaces" based on sensors that could be worn, and made in quantity.
The arbitration court in Moscow approved the deal which lasts for six years and nine months, Russian news agencies said.
The security improvement was described as being part of a broader effort to rid the leading social network of hoaxes, misinformation and fake news by verifying people's identities.
Last year, Musk announced that Tesla plans to build a new pickup truck, an urban bus, and launch a sharing system of self-driving cars.
Plunging the Cassini spacecraft down over Saturn's moon Enceladus , the space agency was able to capture samples of water plumes erupting from the surface.
Enceladus likely contains environments similar to Earth
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has sought to deflect criticism that the huge social network may have been used to fuel the spread of misinformation that affected the 2016 US presidential race.
The inexpensive technique, which can have broad applications in monitoring and protecting aquatic life, was conducted in the East River, which is actually an inlet, and the Hudson River last year.
The skin sensors currently used to monitor vital signs in babies born prematurely generate false alarms in up to 90 percent of cases, mainly set off by the baby's movement.
Social media platform says government summons for user’s identity was withdrawn
Social media company reveals lengthy list of tips to improve its users’ ability to spot hoaxes
The proceedings, against Apple Pty Limited and its US-based parent Apple Inc, were brought on behalf of 275 consumers.
Late last year, the company reported its first quarterly profit in more than three years, but then slipped back into unprofitability in the following quarter.
New Twitter users with eggs as profile pictures risked being mistaken for trolls at first glance, according to the service.
Toshiba is expected to negotiate with individual candidates this month.