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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 23 2017, @09:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-bit-tart dept.

Scientists have added cadmium to bacteria, causing them to accumulate cadmium sulphide crystals on their surfaces:

Scientists have created bacteria covered in tiny semiconductors that generate a potential fuel source from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. The so-called "cyborg" bugs produce acetic acid, a chemical that can then be turned into fuel and plastic. In lab experiments, the bacteria proved much more efficient at harvesting sunlight than plants. The work was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington.

[...] These newly boosted bacteria produce acetic acid, essentially vinegar, from CO2, water and light. They have an efficiency of around 80%, which is four times the level of commercial solar panels, and more than six times the level of chlorophyll.

Also at IEEE.

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  • (Score: 2) by Post-Nihilist on Wednesday August 23 2017, @11:07PM (3 children)

    by Post-Nihilist (5672) on Wednesday August 23 2017, @11:07PM (#558213)

    The summary mentioned that they added Cadmium to the soup, but unless the bacteria transmuted some element the sulphur must come from somewhere ... In accordance to the tradition I did not read the article yet...

    At first glance it seems quite clever to go from light to acetic acid, anyone who manipulated glacial/fumming/fulminating acetic acid could tell you how energetic/reactive this innocent looking {CC(=O)O} acid is, sure it is not in the perclorates {[O-][Cl](=O)(=O)=O} league but still ....

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  • (Score: 2) by Post-Nihilist on Thursday August 24 2017, @12:25AM (1 child)

    by Post-Nihilist (5672) on Thursday August 24 2017, @12:25AM (#558234)

    Can a chemist explain the 0 (3 being bad)rating on reactivity when you have that description on :

    Reactivity Alerts
    Air & Water Reactions
        Flammable. Water soluble. Dissolution generates some heat.
    Fire Hazard
        Special Hazards of Combustion Products: Irritating vapor generated when heated. (USCG, 1999)
    Health Hazard
        Breathing of vapors causes coughing, chest pain, and irritation of nose and throat; may cause nausea and vomiting. Contact with skin and eye causes burns. (USCG, 1999)
    Reactivity Profile
        Mixing acetic acid in equal molar portions with any of the following substances in a closed container caused the temperature and pressure to increase: 2-Aminoethanol, chlorosulfonic acid, ethylene diamine, ethyleneimine [NFPA 1991]. Acetic acid or acetic anhydride can explode with nitric acid if not kept cold. Potassium hydroxide residue in a catalyst pot reacted violently when acetic acid was added [MCA Case History 920. 1963]. During the production of terephthalic acid, n-xylene is oxidized in the presence of acetic acid. During these processes, detonating mixtures may be produced. Addition of a small amount of water may largely eliminate the risk of explosion [NFPA 491M.1991.p. 7]. Acetaldehyde was put in drums previously pickled with acetic acid. The acid caused the acetaldehyde to polymerize and the drums got hot and vented [MCA Case History 1764. 1971]. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and acetic acid ignites when warmed, especially if concentrated [Von Schwartz 1918. p. 322 ]. Several laboratory explosions have been reported using acetic acid and phosphorus trichloride to form acetyl chloride. Poor heat control probably caused the formation of phosphine [J. Am. Chem. Soc. 60:488. 1938]. Acetic acid forms explosive mixtures with p-xylene and air (Shraer, B.I. 1970. Khim. Prom. 46(10):747-750.).

    From : []

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24 2017, @05:01AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24 2017, @05:01AM (#558318)

      You're looking at the yellow section of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 704 fire diamond [], aren't you? One thing that indicates is reactivity with water, presumably because water is commonly used to suppress fires. The reactivity profile you linked mentions water just once: "Addition of a small amount of water may largely eliminate the risk of explosion [NFPA 491M.1991.p. 7]." The other thing the yellow panel indicates is instability, such as when heated, compressed, or shocked. It looks to me as though this has to do with the stability of the substance by itself. The Wikipedia article explains the meaning of the numbers. Your site gives a reactivity/instability rating of 3 to concentrated, stabilized hydrogen peroxide, about which it says:

      Decomposition can build up large pressures of oxygen and water which may then burst explosively. Avoid oxidizable materials including iron, copper, brass, bronze, chromium, zinc, lead, manganese, silver, catalytic metals. Avoid mechanical impact, uncovering the container, contact with combustible materials, light, temperatures above 95F, hot wires, catalytic impurities. (EPA, 1998) ... Concentrated peroxide may decompose violently in contact with iron, copper, chromium, and most other metals or their salts, and dust(which frequently contain rust).

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday August 24 2017, @01:25AM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday August 24 2017, @01:25AM (#558265)

    And, what's the energy cost of mining, refining and delivering the cadmium? Presumably it must be periodically recycled from within the goo of dead bacteria.

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