Researchers Create Self-Sustaining Bacteria-Fueled Power Cell

Title: Researchers Create Self-Sustaining Bacteria-Fueled Power Cell


Date: March 22nd, 2017

The link:

Summary: The researches in Binghampton University, NY are working on microbial fuel cells project. The latest results demonstrated the ability of two synergistic microorganisms to coexists in closed environment (one-fifth of a teaspoon) as symbiotes. This co-culture of heterotrophic and photosynthetic bacteria together can generate the power, – an electrical current of 8 microamps per square centimeter for thirteen days. Phototropic bacteria use the light, CO2, and water to exist; and, heterotrophic bacteria can live on provided organic matter or eventually start using the resource from phototropic bacteria, so the closed self-sustained system will occur. This project has a great potential in the future. The challenges are in balancing both microorganisms’ growth in the closed environment and questioning if additional maintenance will be needed. Therefore, more time for further experiments required.

Connections: We have spent enough time in the class covering microbial metabolism and physiology, and calculating amount of energy while comparing different sources of it. That was a good repetition.

Critical Analysis: The concept used in this research is promising because the system proved to work and sustain itself for thirteen days. Of course, the further research and data analysis is required which is understandable. I didn’t know the site “’ before but there were several good articles to read. This article was written for the Journal of Power Sources and will appear in print on April 30th, 2017.

Question: Do you know any other examples of symbiotic microorganisms used in other research projects?

4 Comments for “Researchers Create Self-Sustaining Bacteria-Fueled Power Cell”



This sounds like a promising fuel cell system provided there is sufficient surface area.
To answer you question: to my knowledge NASA has experimented with cyanobacteria and heterotrophs to generate oxygen in a hypothetical moon colony. Unfortunately I can’t find anything on Google about it so maybe I read it in an old science book in my hazy past.



Your response made me interested in this NASA research project. I went online to search and found the link to all their research projects that could be traced down to 2000. Some of them are very interesting! You can possibly find the one you were talking about. There are several major topics such as “Biology and Biotechnology”, “Multipurpose”, “Technology Development and Demonstration”.
Here is the link to it:



I do not know of any other symbiotic microorganisms that are used in research. I find this very interesting because it goes hand in hand with the exercise we did about finding a way to use microbes to live on the moon or other planets. I think it is awesome that we are thinking in this way when there is research that is doing the same thing.



This is great! Microbial fuel cells are one of the reasons I took microbiology this semester, and this is the first I’ve heard of using 2 bacteria in combination. Very exciting and make’s sense when you think about energy/carbon/nutrient/nitrogen cycling in ecology. The different nodes are adapted to their niche and fill a role. The only other symbiote I’m familiar with is a bacteria that fuels tube worms down by hydrothermal vents. The giant tube worms don’t have an alimentary system, all of their nutrition is derived through absorbed chemicals and nutrients being processed by their symbiote. This is a great lead that will help me in the hunt for a grad program too.