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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Battery powered by leftover food
Food scraps
Leftover food could generate power supplies
Scientists in Bristol have developed a battery which generates electricity from organic waste.

The battery, or microbial fuel cell (MFC), costs just 10 to make and in the future, could allow leftovers from Sunday lunch to top up the power supply of a household.

Although MCFs have been developed in the past, they have always been inefficient and expensive.

But technologists at the University of the West of England in Bristol have come up with the cheap, organic battery.

'Raw materials'

Team leader Chris Melhuish told New Scientist magazine said that although the new MCFs run on sugar cubes, the team aims to move on to carrot power.

"It has to be able to use raw materials, rather than giving it refined fuel."

Inside the battery, which is the size of a personal CD player, a colony of E.coli bacteria produce enzymes which break down carbohydrates and release hydrogen.

Chemical reactions inside the cell strip electrons from the hydrogen atoms to produce a voltage that can power a circuit.

Scientists say 50 grammes of sugar would keep a 40-watt light bulb lit for eight hours.


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

08 Oct 02 | England
23 Aug 02 | Scotland
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