Scientists have now found a way to use electricity exhaled by Geobactor to create power grids. Geobacter is a genus of bacteria which generates tiny electric currents by swallowing up organic waste and “exhaling” electrons. Those waste electrons are usually sent underground by Geobactor’s “giant snorkel”.

“Geobacter breathe through what is essentially a giant snorkel, hundreds of times their size,” Nikhil Malvankar, an assistant professor at Yale University’s Microbial Science Institute in Connecticut, told Live Science.

These snorkels, called nanowires, are tiny conductive filaments that are 100000 times smaller than the width of the human hair. But, they are capable of shuttling electrons hundreds to thousands of times the length of an individual Geobacter microbe’s body. This proves that at any particular given time, there are hundreds of such organisation breathing out electricity.

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Reserchers, have now found out how to combine that energy to create a powerful microbial power grid. In a study published in journal Natural Chemical Biology,  the researchers stated that they have found the secret weapon that allows them to breathe such long distances. The team also found that by stimulating colonies of Geobacter with an electric field, the microbes conducted electricity 1,000 times more efficiently than they do in their natural environment. “We believe this [discovery] could be used to make electronics out of the bacteria beneath your feet,” Malvankar added..

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Plastic eating bacteria

A seperate study stated that scientists have discovered a bacterium that can feed on toxic plastic. Not only does it breakdown the plastic, but it also uses it as fuel to provide power to the process. The bacterium was discovered at a waste site where plastic is discarded. The bacterium, as per reports, is the first one that can attack polyurethane. Every year, a million tonnes of plastic is produced in the factories to manufacture goods such as sports shoes, nappies, kitchen sponges and as foam insulation. However, this plastic has to be sent to the landfill as its recycling is extremely complicated or difficult, as per reports. The plastic can release lethal and carcinogenic chemicals when broken down. These secreted chemicals can kill most bacteria, however, the newly identified strain is able to live longer.

Representative image: Pixabey





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