Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2017 Contents A22 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Monday, June 19, 2017
Tech which makes electricity from urine also kills pathogens
A scientific breakthrough has taken an emerg-
ing biotechnology a step closer to being used
to treat wastewater in the Developing World.
Researchers at the University of the West of England
(UWE Bristol) (Ieropoulos & Greenman) have discov-
ered that technology they have developed which has
already been proven to generate electricity through
the process of cleaning organic waste, such as urine,
also kills bacteria harmful to humans.
Experts have shown that a special process they
have developed in which wastewater flows through
a series of cells filled with electroactive microbes
can be used to attack and destroy a pathogen---the
potentially deadly Salmonella.
It is envisaged that the microbial fuel cell (MFC)
technology could one day be used in the developing
world in areas lacking sanitation and installed in
homes in the developed world to help clean waste
before it flows into the municipal sewerage network,
reducing the burden on water companies to treat ef-
fluent. Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, who is leading
the research, said it was necessary to establish the
technology could tackle pathogens in order for it to
be considered for use in the developing world.
The findings of the research have been published
in leading scientific journal PLOS ONE. Professor
Ieropoulos, director of the Bristol BioEnergy Cen-
tre, based in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at UWE
Bristol, said it was the first time globally it had been
reported that pathogens could be destroyed using
He said: "We were really excited with the results---it
shows we have a stable biological system in which we
can treat waste, generate electricity and stop harmful
organisms making it through to the sewerage net-
It had already been established that the MFC tech-
nology created by Dr Ieropoulos' team could success-
fully clean organic waste, including urine, to the extent
that it could be safely released into the environment.
Enterobacteriaceae: Large family of Gram-negative
bacteria that includes many of the more familiar
pathogens, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
Through the same process, electricity is
generated ---enough to charge a mobile
phone or power lighting in earlier trials.
In the unique system, being de-
veloped with funding from the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, the organic
content of the urine is consumed by
microbes inside the fuel cells, breaking
it down and creating energy.
For the pathogen experiment, Sal-
monella enteritidis was added to urine
flowing through the system, then
checked at the end of the process to
identify if bacteria numbers had been
reduced. Results revealed pathogen
numbers had dropped significantly,
beyond minimum requirements used
by the sanitation sector.
Other pathogens, including viruses,
are now being tested and there are plans
for experiments which will establish if
the MFC system can eliminate patho-
John Greenman, Emeritus Professor
of Microbiology, said: "The wonderful
outcome in this study was that tests
showed a reduction in the number of
pathogens beyond the minimum expec-
tations in the sanitation world.
(UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND)
China has decided to vaccinate poultry from
next month against the H7N9 bird flu virus,
after it claimed hundreds of lives last winter
and caused major damage to the industry.
The vaccination programme will kick off in
Guangdong and Guangxi in southern China in early
July, said a notice from the agriculture ministry
posted on the official WeChat account of the Chi-
nese Veterinary Medical Association this week.
It targets all species including broiler chickens,
ducks, geese and egg-laying hens.
Farms in other provinces will be allowed to opt
for vaccination if approved by local veterinary au-
thorities, it added, and emergency vaccination may
be used to tackle outbreaks.
H7N9 first emerged in China in 2013 but human
cases spiked up last winter, claiming at least 268
lives since October, and mostly during the first
few months of this year.
While the virus initially had little impact on
birds, the high number of human cases led au-
thorities to shut down live poultry markets around
the country, hitting demand for eggs and the native
yellow-feather chickens, commonly sold in such
China to vaccinate poultry
against H7N9 bird flu
China will be vaccinating its chickens from July
against the H7N9 bird flu virus.
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