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Self-recharging bacterial batteries that clean up organic pollution as they generate electricity? Sounds more like science fiction than science.

But a group of US researchers led by Daniel R. Bond have come one step closer to making microbial fuel cells a reality: They harnessed bacteria to generate electricity from underwater sediments.

The microbes make excess electrons that they stick directly to graphite wires, which in turn send current to a second wire very much like a car battery does. These bacterial batteries will probably never power a car, but they should be adequate to run underwater sensors.

Reference: Science, 18 January 2002