Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 27, 2005

Plentiful Hydrogen from Waste-eating Bacteria

As oil prices increase with seemingly no end in sight, alternative fuels are finally getting much-needed attention. Hydrogen is one of the best candidates.

Now, researchers led by Penn State Professor Bruce Logan have figured out a way to increase the amount of hydrogen produced by bacteria feeding on human waste. Adding a tiny amount of electricity -- less than one volt -- to the bacteria-waste mix produces far more hydrogen than unassisted bacteria can produce.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it is hard to capture and store, so producing it in a [microbial] fuel cell could supply a constant stream, much like electricity is produced on demand.

Other researchers are working on ways to create new batteries using microbial fuels cells that generate power from yeast or algae.


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