Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bacteria & Hydrogen Cars

  1. “As ions move down a concentration gradient across the membrane, they can be made to do work…In most cases studied, the ion whose movement powers…is the hydrogen ion--a hydrogen atom from which the single electron has been stripped away, leaving a proton.”
  2. “The proton exchange membrane (PEM) allows only the protons to pass through to the cathode. The electrons must travel along an external circuit to the cathode, creating an electric current.”

Which quote describes a fuel cell for a hydrogen car and which the cellular spinning of flagellum? Where does technology come from? Sometimes biology.

I was pleasantly surprised when reading two books at about the same time to find this echo. The first quote comes from Life at Small Scale: The Behavior of Microbes by David Dusenbery (page 27) and the second from The Hype About Hydrogen by Joseph Romm (page 25, figure 2.1).

That sent me daydreaming about scaling down a hamster on a treadmill by embedding billions of these hydrogen-powered bacterial motors in the sleeve of a car’s wheel axle. Each spinning flagellum would give a minute push to the spinning axle. Routine maintenance on your car might report, “Hundreds of thousands of your motors have failed. Nothing to worry about.”

I imagine that controlling the curved wall of bacteria might be easier than protecting the bacteria from predation or clogging with dust. Has anyone seen such a “bacteria drive” analyzed?

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  • Thanks for the very informative update! I'll be sure to blog about this so all my readers know.

    By Blogger Term Papers, at 3:59 AM  

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