Generating biofuels from bacteria would be easier and potentially more efficient than producing it from plant matter -- if it weren't for the energy-intensive chemical reactions needed to extract the fuel from the bacteria after they've manufactured it. But the most promising sources of bacterial fuel, like cyanobacteria, are wrapped in multiple layers of protective membranes that make it difficult to get at the fatty material.
It seemed like nothing at first. The red patch that appeared on Roy Brillon's thigh could have been a spider bite. But as the weeks passed, it grew and grew. By December 2004, the innocuous-looking bump had become an open wound the size of the palm of his hand. Brillon's doctor, Randy Wolcott, prescribed just about every antibiotic he could think of to cure the infection, but the lesion just got worse. "It was really bad," says Brillon, a 62-year-old retired housepainter from Lubbock, Texas. "I had to give up work because I couldn't climb ladders anymore."
Brillon felt like he was being eaten away from the inside out. And in a very real sense, he was.