Willy Wonka could have powered his Great Glass Elevator on hydrogen produced from his chocolate factory.
Microbiologist Lynne Mackaskie and her colleagues at the University of Birmingham in the UK have powered a fuel cell by feeding sugar-loving bacteria chocolate-factory waste. “We wanted to see if we tipped chocolate into one end, could we get electricity out at the other?” she says.
The team fed Escherichia coli bacteria diluted caramel and nougat waste. The bacteria consumed the sugar and produced hydrogen, which they make with the enzyme hydrogenase, and organic acids. The researchers then used this hydrogen to power a fuel cell, which generated enough electricity to drive a small fan (Biochemical Society Transactions, vol 33, p 76). – newsci