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Bugs producing power - sounds bit Disney?

Written by

Stephen Wright, ENSEK | Business Development Manager

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Bug power - in development?

Yesterday we spoke about how coffee growers could use microbes to eat waste produced from coffee production and turn this to electricity but would this work on a larger scale and how do we harness bug power?

Methanogens are bacteria that eat waste and convert that waste in a energy positive way to Methane. Methane on it's own is one of the worst greenhouse gases and is produced from coal, livestock and rotten waste. Currently methane is used as a waste product from landfill sites and put through a biomass generator where it is burned to generate high amounts of heat to be used as power but could we use methanogens to deliberately create methane for energy? Absolutely!

Methanogens have been found the world over, from ice pockets 3km deep to the dry deserts of South America. Methanogens have been used in wastewater treatment for a few years but as they are able to breakdown almost all organic compounds trials have started to use them in converting CO2 into methane, this may sound counterproductive as methane is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2 but when we factor in the conversion of methane into heat that is low emission the idea looks more attractive.

All in all it would look like the abundance and adaptation of Methanogens make them an ideal innovation in waste treatment and conversion of gases into energy and like many of the innovations in our advent calendar the use of bug power can be scaled to any size meaning eventually we could all be using Methanogens with our own methane generators to heat our homes or offices, or maybe even towns.