Space bacteria could be the future of hydrogen fuel cellsMarch 3, 2012
Microbial fuel cells are getting more attention in the alternative energy community, but many have expressed reluctance to adopt the technology. At present, microbial fuel cells generate less electricity than their conventional counterparts. Though this is a marginal difference, it is enough to cause consumers and companies to shy away from the technology. Researchers from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom say that a certain type of bacteria could make microbial fuel cells much more powerful. The only problem is that these bacteria cannot be found on Earth.
Researchers believe that bacteria living at the edge of the solar system could give microbial fuel cells a major boost in performance. This is partly due to the fact that these bacteria function differently in space than they do on a planet with a rich atmosphere. As such, they are usually stronger in terms of resiliency, reproduction and sustainability.
Currently, microbial fuel cells generate energy by converting the waste created by bacteria into electricity. Space bacteria could produce significantly more waste and it would be of higher quality, allowing the fuel cell to generate more electricity. The concept seems sound enough, but the application is currently far-fetched. Researchers can replicate space bacteria, but they have no way of harvesting colonies from their natural environment. Thus, any colonies that are bred in labs will not be as strong as they would be if they were brought from space.