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Discovery Files - "Shock Treatment"

Discovery Files
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Discovery Files - "Shock Treatment"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

When it comes to America's future energy needs, could we be sitting on a gold mine?

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

Production of hydrogen from wastewater just got a big boost from research done at Penn State University.

A new microbial fuel cell supercharges the fermentation of bacteria with a small electrical current to produce four times more hydrogen, and simultaneously clean the wastewater...without leaving any unwanted by-products.

Unlike conventional fermentation processes, it'll theoretically work on any biodegradable dissolved organic matter...human, agricultural, or industrial.

Could wastewater be the new "black gold" in the global hydrogen economy? Unlikely. Scientists say there just isn't enough waste biomass to sustain it. But this new shock treatment does show there's real potential to capture hydrogen for fuel from renewable sources.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at

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