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  • Most of the UK's energy is derived from non-renewable sources, ok. However, there are plenty of

  • renewable options available to us. The sun is going to continue shining for billions

  • of years. The wind and the tide are not going anywhere, as far as we know. And there is

  • also another form of energy being produced all the time, all around us, which you might

  • not be aware of. And it's methane (CH4).

  • So the combustion of methane can produce large amounts of energy. It's quite popular in India.

  • In the UK it has not gained a foothold. So where does this energy supposed to come from?

  • These guys.

  • Cows get most of the blame for the production of methane but it is actually the microbial

  • communities inside it's digestive tract which are responsible. That process will continue

  • even after the faeces has left the cow and if one were to retrieve a sample of that and

  • place it into an air-tight container, with the appropriate artificial medium, the methane

  • production process would continue, as you can see here.

  • Let's take a closer look at the sample under the microscope to get a picture of what is

  • exactly going on.

  • The intestine of a cow is a very nutrient-rich environment and this allows for the existence

  • of hundreds to thousands of different species.

  • As you can see here in this image, this complexity is completely overwhelming. We can't actually

  • do anything with these bio cells, we have to focus in on our core interest, which is

  • the methane producers known as methanogens. So if we want to isolate these guys and study

  • them further, we have to take some very special precautions.

  • Methanogens are incredibly sensitive organisms. Even a tiny amount of oxygen will kill them.

  • So here you can see my colleague working in an anaerobic chamber where all the oxygen

  • has been removed.

  • This is what a methanogen monoculture looks like after we have successfully isolated it

  • from its natural community. So, of course, these guys are responsible for all the methane

  • production in a cow but they don't do it alone. They rely on an extensive network of other

  • bacteria in a food web. This is where the real science begins, you see, because now

  • that we have our monoculture we can mix and match different players from that food web

  • with this guy to find out: what does a stable community look like; what are the properties

  • of an efficient community; what does a weak community look like? And these design principles

  • can be used to tell us all sorts of things about how nature works.

  • Alright, so thank you very much for listening. Have a great day.

Most of the UK's energy is derived from non-renewable sources, ok. However, there are plenty of


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B1 中級

如何用細菌製造生物燃料 (How to make biofuel from bacteria)

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    Cheng-Hong Liu 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日