Using bacteria to generate energy hopeful: study

14:52, May 27, 2011      

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Scientists revealed for the first time the molecular structure of proteins, which enables bacteria to transfer electrical charges, according to a new study.

The revelation was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. on Monday.

Scientists used a technique called "x-ray crystallography" to reveal the molecular structure of proteins, which work as atom-sized "wires" discharging excess electricity.

"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 lead author Tom Clarke of the University of East Anglia's School of Biological Sciences in Norwich, England.

He said this discovery means "We can now start developing efficient 'bio-batteries' as the viable energy source in the future."

Still, it could take perhaps a decade to go. Before that, existing uses of such bacteria needed to become 100 or 1,000 times more efficient, he said.

The advance could also hasten the development of microbe technology that can help clean up oil or uranium pollution, he said.

Microbes might in future be enlisted to clean up nuclear accidents such as Japan's Fukushima Daiichi disaster, he added.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies
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