Bacteria-coated rubber could help generate electricity

Washington, Jan. 30: Researchers were able to use a small strip of latex rubber coated with bacterial spores to power a new electric generator.

The contraption uses harmless soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which when nutrients are scarce, turns itself into a tough little spore capable of withstanding heat, desiccation, chemical assaults, radiation.

The spores respond to changes in humidity. When the air dries the bacterium shrivel up like grapes turning into raisins and when the air is moist they become plump again.

Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute and several other universities realized that they can harness the physical movement, and make an actuator to generate electricity, IEEE reported.

In the experiment, they slathered bacterial spores on one side of a sheet of rubber,a dn when the sheet dried it curled up. Raising the humidity caused the sheet to straighten out again.

Researcher Ozgur Sahin built a humidity driven generator out of Legos where spore-coated rubber acted as a cantilever flipping back and forth, driving a rotating magnet to produce electricity.

The study has been published in journal Nature Nanotechnology. (ANI)