COCKROACHES: A SOLUTION TO OUR ENERGY PROBLEM?
There aren’t many things I’m scared about in this world, be it a job interview, ghost or going deep in the woods in the middle of the night. But just the sight of one of these creepy little pests and I’m the first to squirm. That’s right; I’m talking about cockroaches. Most of us kill it when we see it, some people eat it as food, but only a few have considered using it as a source of electricity. In an article posted on February 8 2012 on Discovery News website, a group of scientists have done just that, and this is by far the best idea I’ve heard. (I mean, these cockroaches better do something useful or else they’ll just spend their days living in your basement; or even use your clam chowder as a public pool.)
A group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University, led by Michelle Rasmussen and Daniel Scherson, have come up with this creative idea. By sticking a wire into one of these bugs, researchers are able to draw electricity from their electrons. But before you go down to your basement and catch some of these cockroaches to power your Prius, researchers have stated that very little amounts of electricity can be produced- only an estimated 50 to 60 microamperes at 0.2 volts per cm2 is produced (maybe your toothbrush?). In case you’re wondering how cockroaches are able to produce electricity, here’s the explanation. A sugar, trehalose, is manufactured whenever the cockroaches eat. This sugar is then broken down into haemolymph by enzymes in the blood. After a few more steps involving other enzymes, the breaking down and conversion of sugars into food, electrons are released. And this is where researchers are looking to harness the electricity from.
Why, you might ask, is the cockroach used for experimentation instead of other creatures such as the butterfly? The reason being, cockroaches have a higher concentration of trehalose than most creatures do (researchers have also tried mushrooms). At this point if you’re a little worried about the well being of the cockroach, don’t be. The cockroach apparently doesn’t feel pain, and this is due to the insect’s lack of blood vessels. As a result, there’s no pressure; meaning sticking an electrode into a cockroach isn’t that big of a deal.
To end, I’ll like to say that I’m deeply encouraged by researchers that are coming up with new ways and finding new sources for greener energy. In this present time we’re living in, alternative sources of energy is a huge and important matter that I feel needs to be tackled. This is to ensure that our environment, our planet, our home doesn’t become further ruined. This article has been a fascinating read and it shows, that no matter how small or how disgusting something is, it should not be overlooked. This is an approach I feel most scientist should adopt in their experiments.
Posted by Hermann Kam(1)