Bacterial boost for clean energy

Joseph Miceli, a researcher at ASU’s Biodesign Institute with Sustainability Scientists Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and Cesar Torres, is studying how the anode respiring bacteria can be used to clean up waste and produce hydrogen or electric energy.

“One of the ways we currently treat wastewater from such sources as food processing is to use aerobic organisms,” Miceli says, referring to bacteria requiring oxygen for survival. “So we have to pump oxygen into the system in order to help feed the bacteria, which break down the chemical contaminants. This adds a very large cost.”

However, the anode respiring bacteria Miceli is studying can survive in oxygen-free environments, making it more cost-effective and sustainable. Even more so, the bacteria produces energy while respiring.