Biomimetic file 127: Nitrogen-Fed Bacteria Could Power Our Future

Biomimetic file 127: Nitrogen-Fed Bacteria Could Power Our Future


photo credit: Breah LaSarre, Indiana University. “These Zymomonas mobilis don’t look like much, but they could represent a major step forward in clean transport fuels”

Highlight: “A bacterium that doesn’t need its nitrogen preprocessed could breathe new life into environmentally friendly ethanol production, turning mowing the lawn from a chore into an income source. Most ethanol is currently produced from corn or sugar, competing with food for the raw materials while also combating rising prices, among other problems. If the transportation systems of the future are to be powered by low carbon biofuels, we need something better.”

Insight: While we face an increasing energy dilemma driven on one side by a growing climate threat and on the other by a rising demand in energy production, most of the attention has been put towards conventional renewable energies (e.g. solar, wind..) when in fact living organisms and especially bacteria could well hold the solution to our future energy needs. Most species produce energy through bio-chemical principles by which the absorption of nutrients is transformed into usable energy (ATP). Harvesting this energy from bacteria on a large scale could produce enough energy to run many systems of our daily lives…and the best aspect of it is that it is totally free, especially if we consider bacteria that feed on nitrogen, an abundant element of the atmosphere. We should put more emphasis on studying energy production and usage within natural systems as it appears that the potential to produce energy at very low cost has been underestimated..

More information at:

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…


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