Monday, November 14, 2005


Bacteria Eat Human Sewage, Produce Rocket Fuel

`Standard water treatment plants use oxygen-hungry bacteria to break down human waste. To feed the microbes, plants must aerate sewage sludge with costly, power-hogging equipment.

But Brocadia anammoxidans, or anammox bacteria, survive without oxygen, producing energy from nitrite and ammonia, which is found naturally in human waste. [..]

Scientists first discovered anammox bacteria in yeast and later in the open ocean in the late 1990s.

The unusual microbes consume ammonia, producing hydrazine—better known as rocket fuel—in the process. The ability still puzzles scientists.

“They are the only organism on Earth that produces hydrazine, so until their discovery, [hydrazine] was thought to be a man-made substance,” Strous said.’

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