Microbes may hold the key to modernizing an energy gridJune 5, 2012
Need for more efficient energy infrastructure gaining focus
With alternative energy growing in popularity around the world, the need for a modernized energy grid is becoming more apparent. Alternative energy does not lend itself well to conventional energy grids, many of which are fraught with efficiency problems. The problems with conventional energy grids are part of the reason why alternative energy has not managed to experience the progress it may be due. Improving the energy infrastructure of a country is no small feat, however, and many attempts have been met with failure. New research from the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences suggests that there may be a way to modernize an energy grid naturally.
Microbes capable of transferring electrons through conductive materials focus of new research
According to the research, microbes can be used to make an energy infrastructure more efficient and better suited for rapid growth. Researchers from the university have found that certain microbes are capable of transferring electrons from one another as well as to objects. This process is commonly seen in microbial fuel cells, but could be applied to a large-scale energy infrastructure. Researchers suggest that microbes capable of shuttling electrons between materials could be the answer to the energy grid problem.
Research presents first evidence of energy transfer between species in this way
Kazuya Watanabe, part of the team working on the research, notes that microbes often used conductive minerals in order to transfer energy amongst each other. The research from the Tokyo University is the first evidence that species are capable of transferring electrons from one another using conductive minerals or materials. The research could have various implications for the world of alternative energy and the energy grids of countries.
Work remains for the method to become viable
Researchers believe that energy grids can be made more efficient and accommodating of the needs of alternative energy through the use of microbes. More work must be done before such a method can be considered viable, but the Tokyo University believes that its team is on the right track to unlock success.