Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microbes Plus Sugars Equals Hydrogen Fuel?

Date:
November 3, 2007
Source:
US Department of Agriculture
Summary:
Wanted: Bacterium that can eat sugar or sludge; must be team player or electrochemically active; ability to survive without oxygen, a plus. Thus might read the bacterial "job description" posted by scientists, who are collaborating on ways to make microbial fuel cells more efficient and practical.

To isolate bacteria present in swine waste samples, microbiologists Rhonda Zeltwanger and Michael Cotta work in an anaerobic glove box. Because most of these bacteria are strict anaerobes, many manipulations must be performed in the absence of oxygen.
Credit: USDA, Photo by Keith Weller

Wanted: Bacterium that can eat sugar or sludge; must be team player or electrochemically active; ability to survive without oxygen, a plus. Thus might read the bacterial "job description" posted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Washington University (WU) scientists, who are collaborating on ways to make microbial fuel cells more efficient and practical.

According to Mike Cotta, who leads the ARS Fermentation Biotechnology Research Unit, Peoria, Ill., the project with WU arose from a mutual interest in developing sustainable methods of producing energy that could diminish U.S. reliance on crude oil.

Cotta's team specializes in using bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms inside bioreactors to do work, such as ferment grain sugars into fuel ethanol. At WU in St. Louis, Mo., assistant professor Lars Angenent is investigating fuel cell systems that use mixtures of bacteria to treat organic wastewater and catalyze the release of electrons and protons, which then can be used to produce electricity or hydrogen fuel.

In September 2006, the researchers pooled their labs' resources and expertise to undertake a three-year cooperative project. One resource they'll share is the ARS Peoria-based Microbial Culture Collection, which houses about 87,000 accessions of freeze-dried microbes from around the world.

Using the collection's database information, the team is searching for microbes that "eat" biomass sugars (e.g., glucose and xylose from corn stover) and are electrochemically active. That means they can transfer electrons from fuel cell sugars without help from costly chemicals called mediators. The electrons, after traveling a circuit, combine with protons in a cathode chamber, forming hydrogen, which can be burned or converted into electricity.

Bacteroides and Shewanella are among bacteria species used to start the process.

Hydrogen's appeal stems from its natural abundance and capacity to store and release energy in a nonpolluting manner. The challenge is commercially producing it from sources other than fossil fuels, which are in limited supply and nonrenewable. About 95 percent of U.S. hydrogen comes from petroleum or natural gas via a process called steam reforming.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by US Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

US Department of Agriculture. "Microbes Plus Sugars Equals Hydrogen Fuel?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071026132750.htm>.
US Department of Agriculture. (2007, November 3). Microbes Plus Sugars Equals Hydrogen Fuel?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071026132750.htm
US Department of Agriculture. "Microbes Plus Sugars Equals Hydrogen Fuel?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071026132750.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins