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Bacteria Desalinate Water, Generate Power

Researchers at Penn State University have engineered a microbial fuel cell which turns dirty salt water into electricity and drinkable water.

The researchers start with a cup full of water from a pond or other natural source. Among the millions of microbes in the sample, some of the bacteria (scientists haven't identified the specific species) will naturally produce electrons and protons inside their cells and transport them outside themselves.

Using only two thin pieces of plastic, the researchers have discovered the key to harnessing the power of these microbes. The membrane created by the Penn State scientists can draw away the electrons, ions or gases created by the microbes, towards an anode or a cathode, which are positively and negatively charged electrodes.
 
 

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