Bugs from space offer new source of power

For Azarius news articles we’ll usually put our own spin on the title of a press release, but this one has such a wonderful B-movie quality we kept it as is. The news here is that a team of scientists from Newcastle University have identified numerous strains of bacteria as an efficient source of electricity.

…From space!
Several of these bacteria are normally found in the stratosphere, 30 kilometres above the earth’s surface. The microbes are a key component in a new biofilm. Together with over 70 different strains of bacteria they were tested for their power-generation ability using a Microbial Fuel Cell (a kind of battery which uses bacteria to convert organic compounds directly into electricity).

The microbe from the stratosphere - Bacillus stratosphericus - was one of the ‘super bugs’ which managed to nearly double the output of the Microbial Fuel Cell to 200 milliwatts per cubic metre. This should be enough to power a light bulb.

Professor of Marine Biotechnology Burgess: "This is the first time individual microbes have been studied and selected in this way. Finding B.Stratosphericus was quite a surprise but what it demonstrates is the potential of this technique for the future – there are billions of microbes out there with the potential to generate power."

It’s not quite a goodbye to fossil fuels yet, but perhaps in the future ‘bugs from space’ will be powering our lights and appliances.

Read on:

Newcastle University press release - 'Bugs from space offer new source of power'