Will we generate electricity with bacteria in the future?

– Sept. 25, 2023

New research shows that the E. coli bacterium has the potential to simultaneously produce energy and process organic waste.

Researchers have been able to modify E. coli bacteria so that they can generate energy. Generating electricity with bacteria has been done before, but exotic species were used that could only grow in the presence of specific substances. E. coli bacteria are much less picky; they can grow on various food sources. This makes the possibilities for electricity generation with microorganisms much more versatile.

Killing two birds with one stone

For example, E. coli bacteria were found to grow well in the wastewater from a brewery. This way, the bacteria generate energy while also processing organic waste! And the potential of this innovative approach is not limited to wastewater; the bacteria can be used very flexibly. They can be adapted to grow in a specific environment and on different raw materials. This means that E. coli bacteria could play a significant role in the development of sustainable technology.

The most versatile bacterium

E. coli is the most studied microbe in the world. The bacterium is popular because it is easy to grow in a laboratory. It also has many applications in biotechnology because it can be used to produce a wide variety of substances. E. coli is indispensable in medicine because it is used to produce many vaccines and medicines. This bacterium can also produce biofuels and break down toxic substances. Generating electricity is a valuable addition to the resume of the E. coli bacterium.

Autor: Corinne Mulder