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September 17 2013

Bacterial batteries get a solid boost

Silver, the precious metal once thought to protect against werewolves and make magic mirrors, has a new, real talent: helping microbes turn sewage into power.

Engineers have long used microbes to wring out electrical energy trapped in wastewater, and relied on oxygen to soak up the harvested electrons. But these mini power plants can be finicky and leak oxygen and microbes. When the two mingle, the bugs guzzle the gas and short-circuit the system.

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