Superbugs to Make Power from Poo

Quick intro to the hydrogen-economy paradox: The stuff could save our oil-addled asses, but curses! We have to burn oil to make the stuff. Enter researchers from Penn State, who have announced that they can use specially bred bacteria to make the most plentiful element in the universe from... Well, let's allow FOXNews to serve up the money shot:

The idea, first announced in 2005 but improved upon in newer work, is to take liquid waste, such as effluent from sewers, breweries or food processing plants, and feed it to soil- or wastewater-derived bacteria raised in reactors designed to foster their growth.

Gracious me! Effluent! They've got some kind of poet on the shit-eating bacteria beat over there in Murdoch country.

Actually, the process sounds like it might have legs. The Penn State engineers think they can eventually run their bacteria-breeding reactor on electricity generated by the bacteria-poo effluent interface. This is significant, as it would create a closed loop, with beautiful clean sweet-smelling hydrogen as the only byproduct. Not exactly an organic perpetual-motion machine, but close. It would provide a significant boost to more widespread use of fuel-cells.

The key input to get the coveted output, of course, is crap, of various flavors. And lord knows we're not going to be running out of that anytime soon.
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Garbage in, hydrogen out [FOXNews]