updated 08:15 pm EDT, Thu May 26, 2011
Tech improves efficiency of microbial fuel cells
Researchers at the University of East Anglia in England have reportedly made a significant breakthrough in microbial fuel-cell technology. A team of scientists have discovered the molecular structure which allow bacteria to transfer electrical charge. The findings are said to open the door for further research that will likely improve the efficiency of the fuel cells referred to as biological batteries.
Shewanella oneidensis bacteria were observed using X-ray crystallography to take a closer look at the proteins responsible for transferring electrons. A deeper understanding of the transfer mechanisms is expected to be utilized to develop new methods for connecting cells to electrodes.
"This is an exciting advance in our understanding of how some bacterial species move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell," said Dr. Tom Clarke, a researcher that works with the school's biological sciences division, according to quotes posted by Gizmag. "Identifying the precise molecular structure of the key proteins involved in this process is a crucial step towards tapping into microbes as a viable future source of electricity."