Rock-Fueled Electricity

Researchers discover “breathing rocks” that sustain energy, could produce clean electricity.


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Scientists have discovered that microorganisms deep beneath the Earth’s surface survive due to “breathing rocks,” such as iron minerals, according to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Research shows bacteria construct tiny biological links that connect with cellular walls of minerals, allowing the microorganism to conduct elections to the mineral. The bacteria then acts like a wire plugged into an electrical outlet, releasing an electrical charge from inside the cell into the mineral. Biologists from the University of East Anglia say this new understanding of bacterial processes could aid in the development of waste to generate clean electricity, as the bacteria in microbial fuel cells could potentially be powered by sewage.