BAC­TE­RIA POWER

Mi­crobes can be used in large quan­ti­ties to con­vert light into en­ergy, even un­der over­cast skies.

Business Today - - THE HUB - Il­lus­tra­tion by Raj Verma

Mi­crobes can be used in large quan­ti­ties to con­vert light into en­ergy, even un­der over­cast skies

IT HAS BEEN at least four years since sci­en­tists at the State Univer­sity of New York- Bing­ham­ton de­vel­oped a bac­te­ria- pow­ered bat­tery on a sin­gle sheet of pa­per, able to power dis­pos­able elec­tronic de­vices. These bio­bat­ter­ies were sup­posed to rev­o­lu­tionise the bat­tery land­scape, but they didn’t.

Be­fore that, in 2015, a fully in­te­grated and self-pow­ered sys­tem on pa­per was also de­vel­oped so that it could work in­de­pen­dently and in a self-sus­tain­able man­ner as a low-cost so­lu­tion in spe­cific use cases. It was ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing power from mi­cro­bial me­tab­o­lism, de­liv­er­ing on­board en­ergy to the next gen­er­a­tion of pa­per-based sys­tems with one drop of bac­te­ria-containing liq­uid de­rived from re­new­able and sus­tain­able wa­ter sources.

Now, researchers at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia (UBC) have found a cheap and sus­tain­able way to build a so­lar cell us­ing bac­te­ria that con­vert light into en­ergy, ScienceDaily re­ports. The cell gen­er­ated a cur­rent stronger than any pre­vi­ously recorded from such a de­vice and worked equally ef­fi­ciently in low light and bright light. The in­no­va­tion could be a step to­wards wider adop­tion of so­lar power in places where over­cast skies are com­mon.

It has al­ready been demon­strated that bac­te­ria can pro­duce en­ergy from sun­light through pho­to­syn­the­sis. Cer­tain bac­te­ria pro­duce a chem­i­cal that makes it pos­si­ble and sci­en­tists have put these chem­i­cals into so­lar cells al­though it is a com­pli­cated process.

How­ever, the UBC re­search group did the smart thing and used the bac­te­ria di­rectly, with their chem­i­cals in­tact. These chem­i­cals are a form of dye that turns light into en­ergy. The bac­te­ria used in this case are none other than Escherichia coli, or E. coli, that cause so much trou­ble to hu­mans in ev­ery­day life.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the new method is not quite as ro­bust as tra­di­tional so­lar en­ergy, but it has the dis­tinct ad­van­tage of be­ing able to cope with lower light in ad­di­tion to bright sun­light.

The use of bac­te­ria for so­lar en­ergy is also thought to be more eco­nom­i­cal, which the researchers (In­di­ans are among them) demon­strated with the den­sity of the bio­genic cells.

THE IN­NO­VA­TION COULD BE A STEP TO­WARDS WIDER ADOP­TION OF SO­LAR POWER IN PLACES WHERE OVER­CAST SKIES ARE COM­MON

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.