Feb. 21, 2012
From Harvard University:
Emily Gardel, "Collecting Electrons from Metal-Breathing Bacteria"
February 21, 2012
Collecting Electrons from Metal-Breathing Bacteria:
Although bacteria are micron-sized organisms, they are dominant members of our biosphere and play a key role in every known biogeochemical cycle. Their metabolic pathways utilize pairs of reduction-oxidation reactions to harness energy through the transport of electrons within the cell, and eventually, across the cellular membrane. While humans use oxygen as an electron acceptor, microorganisms have the ability to use a variety of compounds, and current research has found some capable of using solid-phase materials, such as metal oxides, as electron acceptors. I will discuss how this phenomenon can be studied by separating the locations of the oxidation and reduction reactions in a system called a microbial fuel cell (MFC) which has applications towards energy production, bioremediation, and wastewater treatment. There is interest in understanding the limiting factors important for overall performance in MFCs and I have found that diffusion of substrates to the bacteria is important for overall current production.
Hear the lecture.
Supplement the lecture audio with her powerpoint presentation.
Watch her talk about the microbial fuel cell she brought to demonstrate her research. (Pardon my simple camera. Although it might not be obvious in the video, the electrical component was flashing.)
View a movie of the 3D image (taken with confocal microscopy) of a biofilm growing an electrode in her system.
Check out PhD Candidate Gardel's website at the Harvard University website, where she provides information about her academic research and background.
General information about her provided by the Mount Holyoke Physics Department.
The microbial fuel cell in all its glory: