Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Electricity from Mud

PostedMarch 14, 2004

Download File (mp3)

Dig in the muck of the Potomac River, and you never know what you'll find.  Case in point: University of Massachusetts biologist Derek Lovely discovered an electricity-generating microbe.  Yup, this bug munches mud and spits out electrons.  At D.C.'s Naval Research Lab, chemist Lenny Tender is grabbing those electrons and getting enough juice to run a calculator.  If engineers can make the process efficient enough, Tender says the bacteria—called Geobacter—is an obvious choice to power ocean monitoring equipment (it's a hassle to keep changing batteries a thousand feet underwater)... and he dreams of cities one day lighted by Geobacter.  And there's more.  Environmental engineers say these superbugs are demonstrating success at cleaning up groundwater pollution too.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.