Harvard students harness electric power from bacteria in soil


Eco Factor: Bacteria metabolize waste to produce energy that is stored in microbial fuel cell.

When you think of renewable energy, energy sources like solar energy, wind power, hydropower and biofuel are more likely to come to your mind. But, what if I tell you that even earth could give us energy. A team of Harvard students has succeeded in harnessing energy by using bacteria living in soil. As part of a class project, the students collected the small current produced by the bacteria in a microbial fuel cell.

This group of ingenious minds test-drove the MFC batteries in villages in Namibia, Africa, using soil and manure to fuel the batteries. It is found that on metabolizing dead leaves, compost and other organic waste, the bacteria release energy. When an electrode, or electrical conductor like a copper wire, is added, the electrons attach to it, creating a chemical reaction resulting in a small charge of electricity.

Besides providing energy that is clean, this process of extracting energy from dirt will also save money and reduce air pollution. The most recent microbial-fueled battery is capable of powering a small LED lamp and can last for up to a year. Priced at $10 to $15, this amazing battery is easy to make and simple to use.

Via: CSMonitor