OT E coli Bacteria have been used to generate electricity

What bacteria is used to produce electricity?

E. coli bacteria, which are commonly used in biological research, have been used to generate electricity via a mechanism known as extracellular electron transfer (EET). EPFL researchers altered E. coli bacteria to have increased EET, resulting in highly efficient "electric microbes."Sep 16, 2023

dated Sept 2023


Sure. I can energize a small LED light bulb with a galvanized nail, a penny, and a potato. To be honest, it probably requires multiple potatoes wired in series to light the bulb.

The question is whether these ideas can be scaled up at a reasonable cost to provide significant amounts of electricity? I don’t know much about this bacterial extracellular electron process. But for the time being, I am going to be skeptical this is anything more than an interesting bit of science.

  • Pete

What is the voltage for E. coli electroporation?

1.8 kV

For electroporation of microorganisms, 0.1 and 0.2 cm gap cuvettes are most often used. Electroporation of E. coli is generally carried out at a voltage of 1.8 kV (E = 18 kV/cm) when electroporating cells in 0.1 cm cuvettes and at a voltage of 2.5 kV (E = 12.5 kV/cm) when electroporating cells in 0.2 cm cuvettes.

@waterfell you say some crazy things without any research.

What is the voltage of the mitochondrial membrane potential?

[1], [2] Notably, there are transmembrane potentials across both the cell membrane and the mitochondrial membrane, which are about −60 mV and −180 mV, respectively.

my comment there is some sort of comparison of a square meter of mitochondria being equal to a lightning bolt.

The math from 0.1 cm cuvettes to one square meter?

I think there is a lot more to the math than this. So the count is probably a lot higher. But 18kV per sq cm(not a cuvettes so probably wrong) to a sq meter makes for 1.8e+8/sq meter.

Cuvettes is on a spectrometer? That would mean this is more than that voltage.

Cuvettes I have never dealt with before.

  1. a straight-sided, optically clear container for holding liquid samples in a spectrophotometer or other instrument.

Alright so we are talking a cm^3

The math is apples to oranges but demonstrates this is nothing to sneeze at.

1 Like

What does the size of the cuvette have to do with anything?

It was a unit used in measuring the 1.8kV in E. coli. The energy is in wastewater.

Mitochondria is a very thin layer, film, or basically on the cellular level.

It is an apples-to-oranges comparison. I have never sat down to rework such a comparison.

Imagine a reservoir of wastewater above ground or underground that gives us electricity. Being on the cellular level is unnecessary when you think of scaling up the source.

Curious idea, there are oceans down in the earth’s mantel. I wonder if any of them have a charge.

I know what a cuvette is, I used them all the time in the lab. I’ve read the article twice and I can’t figure out what is actually happening. Can they harvest the electricity somehow?


Maybe. Maybe not. But right now all they need to harvest is enough grant money to keep the project going for as long as possible.

I do not know yet. The bacteria is producing electricity is a good quantity. We are producing wastewater. What could go wrong?

I dunno. Not being to harvest the electricity?

If there is electricity they can take it. How efficient or economic it will be I do not know.

The real question can it be scaled up?


Plus 20 characters.

I’d imagine some engineering with an anode and cathode. It might also take structuring what is in the wastewater.

That is how any battery is structured.

I thought this was generation, not storage?

1 Like

A generator does not store energy. A generator puts off a charge.

A battery puts off a charge.

The E. coli in wastewater would as gathered be a battery. The bacteria would generate a charge. The container of wastewater would become a battery. Admittedly it is only a half step towards an actual battery.