Maureen SantosNovember 14, 20186926 min

Earth is already enveloped in various pollution and researchers have found a way to turn human wastes into clean hydrogen energy.

Wastewater treatment plants are known for their indication of carbon. Researchers from Spain’s King Juan Carlos University discovered how to lessen carbon emissions from excrement and at the same time, create hydrogen energy. They used purple bacteria and electrical currents to benefit from organic materials from human wastes such as poop.

Origin of Purple Bacteria

According to the co-author of the research Dr. Daniel Puyol, purple phototrophic bacteria is associated with the largest and most divergent group of bacteria all of which are photosynthetic. However, compared to plants and algae, they utilize infrared light as means of energy source for metabolism. This process provides them different hues from brown to red and even purple.

Because of the organisms’ adaptable metabolism, they can function in an array of metabolic reactions like a Swiss army knife. The organisms are naturally abundant but preferred to thrive in bodies of water such as lakes. They are usually found in wastewater treatment plants, providing researchers regarding their purposes.

Dr. Puyol, together with Tim Hülsen and Damien Batstone used the bacteria for wastewater treatment during their research. They used to think that they could modify the organism’s metabolism for a different purpose. Hydrogen production is one possibility for an energy gas. This option is presently being studied at the University Rey Juan Carlos.

Hydrogen Gas Process

Homeostasis is the process by which all living things keep an equilibrium. Purple bacteria on their part has difficulty with electron overloads from their metabolism. It releases the excess electrons by way of carbon dioxide fixation similar to plants. The other process is releasing electrons as hydrogen gas.

Importance of Waste Composition

What the waste matter contains is also important since it has a major role in how the purple bacteria will produce hydrogen. The procedure is completely subdued in the existence of ammonium that usually originates from proteins in the human wastes. A low-protein diet will possibly assist in the easier production of more hydrogen. Aside from what the human wastes contain, the organism also considers its environmental condition such as light intensity, temperature, types of organics as well as available nutrients.

Dr. Puyol said, “One of the most important problems of current wastewater treatment plants is high carbon emissions. Our light-based biorefinery process could provide a means to harvest green energy from wastewater, with zero carbon footprint.”

The organism can utilize organic molecules and nitrogen gas rather than CO2 and H2O for supplying electrons, nitrogen, and carbon for photosynthesis. It only indicates that this type of bacteria grows faster compared to alternative phototrophic bacteria and algae. It could also produce hydrogen gas, proteins, or some kind of decomposable polyester as metabolism derivatives.

The researchers noted that their findings were the first documented use of mixed cultures of purple bacteria in a bioelectrochemical system. Likewise, it is the primary exhibition of any phototroph transforming metabolism because of a cathode contact.

The latest discovery would somehow reduce the possibility of further greenhouse effect because of carbon emission. It would also alleviate the harmful effects of climate change which has been made worse by humans themselves.


Maureen Santos

She lets everyone become aware of what is happening to our beloved planet Earth and its inhabitants. She can take you beyond the space and find out how neighbor planets are doing. Moreover, she would open your eyes to the things what makes the Earth suffer including the living species and allow you to decide what you can do to help save the planet and the future generation.

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