Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England must go through a lot of Dairy Milk. So much so, even, that they’ve teamed up with Cadbury Schweppes (the makers of numerous chocolaty treats) to use the by-products of candy production as an alternative source for hydrogen power.

The scientists fed leftover caramel and nougat (mmm, nougat) to sugar-loving bacteria, which release hydrogen and organic acids as they eat. The organic acids were then fed to a second type of hydrogen-producing bacteria, and the combined hydrogen production of the two (when converted into electricity by a fuel cell) was enough to power a small electric fan. You can view a video of the experiment here.

The research team hopes that, in five to 10 years, the process will be refined enough to provide enough hydrogen to produce industrial electricity and to power waste treatment. Research leader Lynne Macaskie predicts that homes of the future will come with “eco-pods,” so every family will have its own mini bacteria-power plant running off food scraps. Plus, researchers found that additional waste products left by the bacteria can be used in an altered form to remove specific pollutants from the environment. For these researchers, success doesn’t just smell sweet, it tastes sweet too. —Nicole Price Fasig

Link via New Scientist


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