The growing need for renewable energy sources has led to a demand of new methods that help to store the resulting energy in an inexpensive and environment friendly manner. In the latest issue of ACS’ journal, Environmental Science & Technology Letters, scientists have reported the development of a first-of-its-kind rechargeable battery driven by bacteria.
Storing energy from solar and other renewable sources could involve batteries made with bacteria. Credit: scalatore1959/iStock/Thinkstock
Renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are becoming extremely important as nations are working towards reducing the dependence on petroleum and greenhouse gas emissions. However, consumers cannot always rely on wind and light as both are not constant. Renewables become a lot more reliable when energy can be stored, but existing technologies like lithium-ion batteries are limited by high costs, safety issues, and several other factors. Sam D. Molenaar and his colleagues from Wageningen University and Wetsus (The Netherlands) planned to develop a sustainable and cost-effective solution.
For the very first time, the researchers incorporated two microbial energy systems. One system formed acetate from electricity using bacteria, and the other system transformed the produced acetate back into electricity. The battery was charged for more than 16 hours and it was then discharged for the next 8 hours to imitate the typical day-night pattern for the production of solar energy. This cycle was repeated 15 times.
The researchers pointed out that energy density of the microbial battery could be a competitor to standard technologies. In the future, it will be possible to store energy from the common renewable sources in a cost-effective and safe manner, unlike the current options.
The authors acknowledge funding from Wetsus (The Netherlands).