Purple bacteria can generate hydrogen energy from organic waste. Researchers have found a new way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and turning wastewater into green generators.
Organic compounds commonly found in industrial wastewater and household wastes are known as a rich energy source, bioplastics and proteins for animal feed. However, during the process of removing contaminants from wastewater, treatment plants discard them. Researchers now show a new environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.
Their method, the first time in history, uses purple bacteria and electrical current to recycle coal from all kinds of organic materials. Their results were published in Energy.
People usually think that photosynthesis is associated with color green. But the pigments are available in all sorts of colors. Cue purple photophilic bacteria capture energy from sunlight through different pigments like red, brown, orange and purple. But the diversity in their metabolism interests researchers.
Dr Daniel Puyol and the team at King Juan Carlos University, Spain, found in his study that purple bacteria can use electrons from the cathode to produce hydrogen via photosynthesis.
"Records from our bioelectrochemical system showed a clear interaction between the purple bacteria and the electrodes: negative polarization of the electrode caused a detectable consumption of electrons in connection with a reduction in carbon dioxide production," explains co-author Professor Abraham Esteve-Núñez of the University of Alcalá, Spain.
The authors note that catching CO2 can not only be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but also to purge biogas for use as fuel.