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NEWS
Electricity and Hydrogen Generated From Live Bacteria
June 28, 2018

A new technology developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology enables energy harvesting from photosynthetic bacteria – cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria belong to a family of bacteria common to lakes, seas and many other habitats. Throughout their evolution, the bacteria developed photosynthetic mechanisms that enable them to generate energy from sunlight. In addition, they also generate energy in the dark, via respiratory mechanisms, which relies on sugar degradation.

According to information, the Technion researchers developed an energy-producing system that exploits both the photosynthesis and respiratory processes, allowing for energy harvesting during the day (photosynthesis) and at night (respiration). The harvested energy was leveraged to generate electricity, which was then utilized to produce hydrogen gas, currently considered the fuel of the future, as hydrogen-motorized vehicles only emit water, without pollutants.

The system is based on radiation-driven generation of a photocurrent, which the researchers showed was highly stable and enabled continuous production of hydrogen. They believe that it can serve as a promising source of clean, environment-friendly energy that will not emit pollutants during production or use (hydrogen fuel).

The energy-generating processes that developed in photosynthetic bacteria throughout evolution have come to be appreciated as they perform their function without the generation of pollution. For this reason, the past few years have witnessed growing interest in the possibility of generating energy and hydrogen from these bacteria. One of the breakthroughs of this study was the use of live bacteria, which can repair damaged photosynthesis-related proteins in real-time. In addition, energy harvesting is not expected to harm the bacteria.

The work, published in Nature Communications, was supported by various bodies, including the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI), the Technion Hydrogen Technologies Research Lab (HTRL), the Adelis Foundation, the Planning and Budgeting Committee’s I-CORE program, the Israel Science Foundation, the USA-Israel Binational Science Fund (BSF) and the German research fund (DFG-DIP).


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