With a microfluidic technique, it will be possible to quickly sort bacteria according to their ability to generate electricity. Microbes can be used for power generation or environmental cleaning purposes with a new microfluidic technique.
Some microbes that can’t find oxygen have turned the work of breathing into the form of receiving electrons, and can do this work at the bottom of Mines, under oceans, and even in the human stomach. Scientists are trying to use these microbes to power fuel cells and purify sewage, but the electrical properties of the microbe are quite difficult to identify; these cells are much smaller than mammalian cells and are extremely difficult to develop in a laboratory environment.
Engineers at MIT have reported that it will be possible to evaluate the electrochemical activity of the bacterium in a safer and more effective way than current techniques, using what we can call polarizability, the ability to generate electricity.
Bacteria that produce electricity form electrons inside their cells and transmit these electrons through a mechanism called extracellular electron transmission (EET) through surface proteins. The methods proposed so far are quite laborious and time consuming. In other techniques, the cell needs to be broken down and the proteins purified. In this study, a faster and less damaging method is used.
In their latest study, the research group aimed to compare bacterial variants over the different and known electrochemical activity of each. He tried to find a similarity between the electrical ability of the bacterium in a micro-fluidized device under dielectrophoretic power and how it behaves within this device.
The research team planted a very small, microliter-level bacterial variant in the micro-fluid channel in the form of a clock glass and increased the voltage in the range of 0-80 V, 1 volt per second. Using the particle imaging velocity measurement method, it was found that the resulting electric field pushed the cells towards the canal, and from there it was directed back (diaelectrophoresis) and held where it was. Some bacteria were kept low and some were kept at high tension. The eclipse voltage was found to be compatible with polarizability. Bacteria that are more electrochemically active have been found to have a higher polarizability value.
The team said that it is possible to use their work in clean energy production, bio-improvement and bio-fuel production in a broad sense.