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Bioengineered E. Coli Bacteria Generate Electricity from Raw Sewage: A Breakthrough in Sustainable Energy Efforts

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Bioengineered E. coli Bacteria Can Generate Electricity from Raw Sewage

Bioelectronics engineers have developed a strain of E. coli bacteria that can produce electricity while thriving in raw sewage. This breakthrough in sustainable energy has the potential to transform the more than 640 billion pounds of human waste produced each year into a valuable resource for utility companies.

The Power of E. coli

Escherichia coli, commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals, as well as in nature, is a diverse group of bacteria that feed on decaying organic matter. Researchers have discovered a new method to harness the electrochemical activity of E. coli bacteria to generate electrical current. By immersing two electrodes in contaminated water, a higher-energy version of the bacteria creates an electrical current that can be transferred to wires.

A Game-Changing Innovation

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This bioengineered strain of E. coli bacteria is three times more efficient at generating electrical current compared to regular bacteria. What sets this strain apart is its ability to generate electricity by metabolizing various organic materials, not just human waste. This innovation has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Engineering Electrical Microbes

To enhance the electrical capabilities of E. coli, researchers used a process called extracellular electron transfer (EET). By combining components of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 bacteria, known for its electricity generation, with Escherichia coli bacteria, a complete EET pathway was established. This modification allows electricity production at a rate three times faster than traditional bioelectric bacterial strategies.

Expanding Possibilities

Aside from its impact on recycling and sustainable energy, the engineered E. coli bacteria could also be utilized in microbial fuel cells and special biosensors. The potential applications of this research go beyond electricity generation and have far-reaching implications in various fields.

Source: Daily Mail

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