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Scientists Trick Iron-Eating Bacteria into “Breathing” Electrons in Effort to Create Biofuels

Posted By Lidija Grozdanic On January 29, 2013 @ 10:04 am In green technology,News | No Comments

bacteria biofuels, electricity biofuels, iron eating bacteria, renewable energy sources, biofuels, biotechnological study, biotechnology, BioTechnology Institute University of Minnesota, iron-oxidizing bacteria, green technology, clean energy, scientific study [1]Photo via Shutterstock [2]

Scientists have developed a technique to “trick” common iron-eating bacteria [3] into capturing electrons, which the bacteria use to grow. Typically the bacteria contribute to the corrosion of steel pipelines, bridges and ships, but researchers at the University of Minnesota’s BioTechnology Institute used electrons from an electrode to make the bacteria “breathe.” It’s hoped that the method could be combined with renewable energy sources to developed sustainable biofuels [4].

bacteria biofuels, electricity biofuels, iron eating bacteria, renewable energy sources, biofuels, biotechnological study, biotechnology, BioTechnology Institute University of Minnesota, iron-oxidizing bacteria, green technology, clean energy, scientific study [5]

Scientists Daniel Bond, Zarath Summers and Jeffrey Gralnick of the University of Minnesota’s BioTechnology Institute used the co-called electrochemical cultivation to grow iron-oxidizing bacteria without any presence of iron. By adding marine oxidizer Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1, along with some nutrient medium to an electrode, the bacteria was tricked into consuming electrons as if it were in its natural, iron-saturated environment. The bacteria absorbed electrons directly from the electrode, which enabled it to capture carbon dioxide [6] and multiply.

“It’s a new way to cultivate a microorganism [7] that’s been very difficult to study. But the fact that these organisms can synthesize everything they need using only electricity makes us very interested in their abilities,” said Daniel Bond.

By funneling electricity generated from renewables [8] to iron-oxidizing bacteria that combines it with carbon dioxide, scientists would be able to create and store biofuels, along with other useful products. The actual process of converting energy in electricity into a product that could be stored in a tank requires additional research, according to Bond.

The research will be published in the January issue of mBio [9], an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

+ American Society for Microbiology [10]

Via Phys.org [11]

Photos from Wikimedia Commons


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/scientists-trick-iron-eating-bacteria-into-breathing-electrons-in-effort-to-create-biofuels/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2013/01/elecrode-breathing-bacteria-biofuel.jpg

[2] Shutterstock: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-65718817/stock-photo-rusty-iron.html?src=0d7d2bc215eb43d68235421e9d40a88d-1-56

[3] bacteria: http://inhabitat.com/could-magnetic-bacteria-lead-to-the-creation-of-bio-computers/bacteria-4/

[4] biofuels: http://inhabitat.com/microbubbles-enable-more-efficient-production-of-algae-biofuels/

[5] Image: http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2013/01/Mariprofundus_ferrooxydans_PV-1_stalks_TEM_image.tif_.jpg

[6] capture carbon dioxide: http://inhabitat.com/common-sugars-could-be-used-to-capture-carbon-emissions-at-their-source/

[7] microorganism: http://inhabitat.com/e-chromi-designer-bacteria-will-color-your-poop-according-to-what-ails-you/

[8] renewables: http://inhabitat.com/fossil-fuels-receive-12x-more-subsidies-than-renewables/

[9] mBio: http://mbio.asm.org/

[10] + American Society for Microbiology: http://www.asm.org/

[11] Phys.org: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-scientists-iron-eating-bacteria-electrons.html

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