The search for eco-friendly energy sources have made scientists and researchers to harness energy from smaller living things which started with corn, then algae and now bacteria. By knowing, how to generate electricity from the M13 bacteriophage, basically a virus that infects bacteria, engineers have opened the doors to many futuristic inventions. Maybe the virus produces only a small amount of energy, but can be expanded and one day with that energy you might able to charge your phone while you walk or can power a vacuum cleaner. The technological advancement has led us to the path of ultimate bacterial power which can be used at many places. Let’s check out some of the amazing bacteria driving instruments or advanced gadgets helping us building a clean environment.
- Bacterial power can be used to charge your cell phones. Cell phones have microphones which are piezoelectric and convert the energy from sound to electricity. Many biomolecules in bacteria such as proteins and nucleic acids are also piezoelectric and hence can generate electricity when compressed. The new pencil shaped M-13 phage can affect only bacteria and is completely safe for humans. It is cheap and easy to create as you can get trillions of phages from only a single flask. The shape of M-13 makes it easier to assemble in thin sheets which improve the electricity generation process. Although it produces about 400 millivolt, which is only one quarter of an AAA battery but with more effort, it will ready to power a cell phone.
- Using the same technology of biomaterial piezoelectricity one can witness the unique future applications such as pace maker powered by the beating of one’s heart.
- The microbial technology is also used to power a robotic vacuum cleaner called as ‘Limbo’. It is designed having adjustable wheels that can be expanded, contracted, or can be lowered to give fast ground coverage that help you clean close to wall areas and climb up stairs. The power source of the amazing robotic floor cleaner is bacteria it consumes. The process is well known as microbial electrolysis which enables the vacuum cleaner to recharge as it picks bacteria off the floor. So as long as the floor is dirty it will clean with no charge required.
- One reactor can use the electricity generated from sewage bacteria. Wastewater bacteria feed on everything and convert the organic matter to carbon dioxide gas releasing the basic component of electric current. The reactor comprised of a plastic tube through which the wastewater is circulated. It has graphite rods that act as negative electrode and host bacteria stick to the rods surface. As the bacteria digest electrons are released and move as electrical current, which are then transferred outside to cathode inside another plastic tube.
- The electricity producing capacity of bacteria’s found in sewage water or soil is harvested to produce microbial fuel cells.