Derek Lovley, US microbiologist

Derek Lovley, US microbiologist

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This image is part of the feature Batteries From Bugs

Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Derek Lovley, US microbiologist. Lovley, seen here holding a microbial fuel cell outdoors, is Professor of Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, USA. In 1987, he discovered the bacterium Geobacter metallireducens in river sediment. Geobacter species are able to oxidise organic compounds to form carbon dioxide, using iron oxide or other metals as an electron acceptor. This ability may have industrial applications such as decontaminating petroleum compounds, metals and radioactive substances. Geobacter can also generate electricity by transferring electrons from waste organic matter onto the surface of electrodes. This phenomenoncan be harnessed in the form of a microbial fuel cell. Photographed in 2007.

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