Sunday, May 01, 2005

toilets bringing us one step closer to a hydrogen economy

some of you may have read about clever ways to treat our wastewater using special types of algae and plants to purify the water, but now scientists have developed a way to even get hydrogen gas out of the mixture. scientists at penn state university have created a "microbial fuel cell" - a fancy name for a genetically engineered algae (or something) that turns our crap into gold: hydrogen. while this isn't going to solve more than a small piece of sustainably extracting hydrogen from the world to create sustainable energy, it suggests that hydrogen may not come from just one source, but could come from many pieces of the puzzle puzzling themselves together. people tout a hydrogen economy as something that can save us from global warming, yet many of the cheap ways to produce hydrogen rely on techniques that pump out a lot of greenhouse gases - they'd just be out of a factory instead of your tailpipe, so discoveries like this could mean that our grandchildren's gattaca-perfect children (future children will all be genetically beautiful, of course) might be able to breath air that's a little cleaner, because of our wastewater.

full article at scientific american

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