Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bio-batteries as an alternative source of energy

What is a bacteria powered battery?

The answer is an environmentally friendly 'bio-battery' (or Microbial fuel cell -- MFC). This is a device which directly transforms bacteria into energy. Batteries such as these work in the same way as conventional batteries, but with one difference. The MFC consists of two separate units, the anode and the cathode components, just like the batteries now in current household use. A partly permeable membrane separates the two areas. In contrast to conventional batteries, however, there are bacteria in the anode area of the bio-battery instead of electrolytes.

These break down substrates, in this case glucose, in a metabolic process. This produces electrons that after starting from the anode are finally delivered in an external loop to the cathode. The external circuit is then the one with the battery-powered application, for example, for lights or small motors. In this way, bacteria can produce electric energy. The bio-battery offers an array of advantages.

Due to their simple construction they can be used in regions where there is shortage of electricity, for example, such as in developing countries. An advantage that the bio-battery has over other regenerative energy sources, such as solar and wind power is that they are not dependent on the weather. In the case of bio-batteries, the more nourishment the bacteria receive the more energy they produce. What is more, in theory bacteria are an inexhaustible source of energy as they multiply quickly when supplied with substrates.

Posted by Tim Sandle