Bacteria Holds the Key to Developing Bio-Battery in the Search for Alternative Forms of Energy

E. coli: Five letters that can repulse even the strongest of stomachs. Though the masses believe this to be the universal food poisoning bacteria, fields such as biotechnology and microbiology both utilize the model organism’s ease of manipulation. In one recent development, ten students from Bielefeld University in Germany have found a way to engineer E. coli to convert glucose into energy by way of a bio-battery.

Obviously, there’s a serious need to find alternative sources of energy as our natural resources are slowly depleting. In Germany, this has become especially true as nuclear energy is being phased out and conservation of fossil fuels has taken precedence. Since batteries tend to create high levels of environmental pollution even though they are household items and not large scale producers, the Bielefeld students figured they would start small, yet big.

Their invention works much the same way that a normal battery would, the main difference being in the microbial fuel cell. In the microbial fuel cell, there are two units, the anode and cathode, separated by a semi-permeable membrane. The bacteria will be located in the anode breaking down glucose in a metabolic process that produces electrons which travel to the cathode. That is how the electricity is produced.

Because of the simplicity of their design, these batteries can be very useful in underdeveloped countries where there’s a shortage of electrical energy. Plus, these bio-batteries are not dependent on the weather as solar and wind are. They work day and night, through sun, storm, or snow. The greatest advantage would probably be the fact that bacteria are inexhaustible. Once fed substrates, these microorganisms multiply quickly. There’s no telling how widespread this invention can go.

The team is planning on entering their invention into the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology later this year. Not only will they be competing against 210 of their peers, but they will have to present the bio-battery to the public and find sponsors to fund their costs. The first round of competition will take place in Europe in October.

While the team prepares for their debut, spectators look on in awe as such young individuals formulate a concoction that may change the world!

Source:Science Daily

Smog-reducing Streets

By using specially treated pavement on city streets, scientists in the Netherlands have discovered they can cut air pollution and smog nearly in half. By installing concrete paving composed of titanium dioxide (called photocatalytic pavement) on a block in the city of Hengelo, Netherlands the researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology were able to remove pollutants from the air and reduce them to be less harmful.


Their study researched reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx) – which are gases produced by cars and power plants that contribute to smog. The scientists found the treated street reduced Nox components by 45% under ideal weather conditions (high radiation and low relative humidity).


The use of photocatalytic surfaces has been considered for several years; however, David Brown, Chief Executive of Institution of Chemical Engineers, said in a press release, “this latest research shows the potential of chemically engineered surfaces to further improve our quality of life, especially in major urban areas where traffic emissions are high.”


Source: mnn


Liberty Power to Supply Renewable Energy Certificates to United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Event

Liberty Power, the nation’s largest independent retail electric supplier, today announced that it has donated renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match 100 percent of the estimated electricity usage at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) Annual Convention.

The USHCC Convention is known as the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in America, attracting business associations, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, chamber leaders and members, Hispanic business enterprises (HBEs), and policymakers from across the country. Approximately 7,000 attendees are expected to attend this year’s program.

The 2013 USHCC National Convention is scheduled to take place Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 inChicago, Illinois. Liberty Power will supply enough RECs from Illinois wind energy facilities to match the estimated consumption for the event’s venue, the Hilton Chicago, for the duration of the three-day convention. The donation of RECs will avoid approximately 608,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fueled generation facilities, which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of nearly 34,000 gallons of gasoline consumed.

“We are excited to demonstrate the commitment of the USHCC and Liberty Power to sustainability by purchasing Illinois wind RECs to offset the consumption of the USHCC’s Annual Convention in Chicago,” said David Hernandez, co-founder & CEO ofLiberty Power.

In addition to donating the RECs, Liberty Power will be a Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) Platinum co-sponsor for the second consecutive year.  Liberty Power is also sponsoring the Energy and Sustainability panel, where Mr. Hernandez will participate as a panelist.  The panel will take place on Monday, September 16 at 10:25AM.

“Liberty Power’s continued support for the USHCC is commendable, and we are proud to call them a trusted partner and friend. Their leadership in the energy sector is marked by visionary initiatives — including making our National Convention ‘green’ for the first time,” said USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez.

Self-Watering Planter Can Bring New Life to 2 Liter Bottle Litter

Have you tried time and time and time again to grow your own garden? Do you always end up either over or under watering your plants? Well, here is a fix for your green thumb blues. For all you soda drinkers, you can re-purpose your collection of 2 liter bottles into self-watering machines! Just follow the steps outlined below and you’ll be well on your way to growing your very own fairy forest.

Before getting started, make sure you have the following materials:

  • Empty 2 liter bottle
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Thick string or yarn
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Sharp blade
  • Scissors
  1. Using the sharp blade, cut the bottle in half horizontally, separating the top and bottom
  2. Using the hammer and screwdriver, punch a hole in the top of the bottle cap
  3. Using a pair of scissors, cut the string/yarn at a length of two feet long
  4. Fold the string/yarn in half and tie a knot at the folded end, leaving a loop approximately three inches in diameter
  5. Thread the string through the hole in the bottle cap leaving the loop on the inside of the cap
  6. Screw the cap back on the bottle so the loop hangs on the inside
  7. Decorate the bottom half of the bottle as you wish
  8. Once the paint/marker dries, add water to the bottom half of the bottle
  9. Insert the tops half of the bottle into the bottom half so that the loose end of the string submerges in the water
  10. Fill the top half of the bottle with the potting soil and plant your seeds

Make sure to water the soil from the top once the seeds are planted. After that, the string will do the watering for you. It pulls water from the base into the soil once it dries. As the water becomes depleted, you can add more as necessary. Now you have a beautiful planter that takes the guess work out of the complexities of plant watering. Click here for photos of each step.

App of the Week: ‘One Small Act’ Equals Big Changes

The One Small Act app is all about how making small changes in our everyday lives can have a large impact on the environment. The app has stars of the entertainment company – think Jessica Alba and Alec Baldwin – offering green tips like carpooling to work one a day a week. Users can browse through the tips and set goals for themselves.

Created by Green is Universal, NBCUniversal’s sustainability initiative, One Small Act allows users to collect points when they achieve their goals. The points indicate how big an impact the act had on the planet. Who knew you could get a virtual pat on the back for something as simple as washing your laundry in cold water?
Combined, the actions of the users of One Small Act have saved over 2 million gallons of water, 200,000 pounds of waste, and nearly 2 million tons of CO2. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes store or on your mobile device.

Dorm Survival 101: All That Other Stuff

This is the last installment of the Liberty Power Dorm Survival Guide. By this point, you’ve probably got a van packed to the brim with more stuff than you ever imagined one person would need… but… make a little more room because we’ve got just a few more vital items to help make dorm life more livable.


  • Extra Long Bed Sheets – Those dorm beds are no Average Joe/Plain Jane size! They require extra-long bed sheets, so check the label and sure you pick up the right size. Don’t forget to do the same with your comforter too!
  • Pillows – Whether you prefer decorative pillow, body pillows, or your old homey pillows that you’ve had for years, make sure to pack them. Your neck, back, and roommate will thank you for a good night’s rest sans the snoring.
  • Bed Raisers –Bed raisers are the perfect tool to help lift the height of your dorm bed and make a little extra storage space underneath. Make sure to check out the ones that have outlets in them so you can charge your phone and play Candy Crush while lying in bed.
  • Shower Slippers/Caddy – You wouldn’t go barefoot in the woods, so don’t even consider going barefoot in the communal showers. Bring your shower slippers; it’s a jungle out there! Remember a shower caddy too… or you can take a chance and leave your personal hygiene products in the bathroom. Just don’t count on them still being there when it’s time for your next shower.
  • Towels – Air drying is not going to fly in the less-than-zero privacy of a dorm room. Make sure to pack enough towels to last between trips to the laundromat.
  • Storage Bins – Chances are you’re going to bring more stuff than you have space for or seasonal items that won’t be in use all the time. Make sure to pack a few storage bins that you can hide underneath your bed when it’s not their time to shine.
  • Chargers for Electronics – Technology has advanced so much that our lives are practically run by electronics. Pack the appropriate chargers otherwise you’ll be forced to revert back to pen and paper, phones with rotary dialers, and sundials.
  • Earplugs – Make the snoring stop! Short of smothering your roommate with a pillow, earplugs can provide relief from snoring, loud music, TV or annoying chatter and provide the perfect soundproof escape.

Ok, we know what you’re thinking… we’ve gone a little overboard. Trust us; all the unprepared people on your floor will be banging down your door wanting to borrow this or that. Just knowing you won’t have to fight the crowds at the store during move-in weekend is thank you enough for us.

Dorm Survival 101: Lighting

It’s not always easy to find a way to LIGHT-en the mood in a dorm room, but the following will get you on the right path to illuminating those drab walls.

  • Desk Lamps – Unless you’ve got superhuman powers and can see in the dark (if you do, we’re jealous), you’re probably going to need a desk lamp. It’ll come in handy when your roommate is ready for lights out and you still have chapters to pore over for tomorrow’s midterm.
  • Floor Lamps – Sometimes you just need a break from the harsh fluorescent ceiling lights. Floor lamps can provide a softer lighting alternative as well as add to your room’s décor.
  • Book Lights – Calling all bookworms! A book light is perfect for nights when sleep is hours away and reading is the only thing that won’t wake up your roommate. It’s also a great gadget when you can’t bear to watch another re-run on television.
  • Light Bulbs – You can’t turn the lights on without light bulbs! Make sure to have a few extras in case one goes out (and they always do at the most inopportune times!) Try compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They’re energy-saving and make a positive impact on the environment as well.
  • Flashlight – In case your light bulbs do let you down, you’ll definitely want to have a flashlight handy to navigate the collection of stuff you and your roommate have accumulated over the course of the semester. You don’t want to trip over those foam fingers, old pizza boxes or piles of books!
  • Decorative Lighting – Holiday lights, Chinese lanterns, electric candles… get creative when dressing up your dorm room! Just make sure it’s okay with your roommate, otherwise you may have to draw a line down the middle of the floor and stay on each other’s respective sides. Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Stay tuned for all the miscellaneous – but much needed and very helpful – dorm incidentals you may overlook when making the big move off to college. You definitely don’t want to miss these!

Liberty Power Partners with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Launch Scholarship Program

Liberty Power Bright Horizons Scholarship to Award College Students $20,000 This Year

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Liberty Power, the nation’s largest independent retail electric supplier, is proud to announce its partnership with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). This alliance is geared toward providing tens of thousands of dollars in annual scholarships to eligible students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with an interest in pursuing careers in the fields of energy or the environment.

“The USHCC is proud to partner with Liberty Power to award scholarships to tomorrow’s visionaries, who will soon carry on the responsibility of preserving the perennial American Dream,” said USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez. “By giving students the resources they need, we are stemming the tide of restrictive education costs and making sure we continue to out-innovate the rest of the world.”

“Liberty Power’s devotion to our nation’s foremost duty – preparing our youth for the challenges and opportunities of the future – is commendable, and we are honored to partner with them in this endeavor,” said Marc Rodriguez, USHCC Chairman of the Board.

This year, the newly-established Liberty Power Bright Horizons Scholarship will award one $10,000 scholarship and two $5,000scholarships to students interested in pursuing careers in the fields of environment and energy. The first-ever award winners will be announced at this year’s USHCC National Convention, set to take place in Chicago on September 15th-17th.  Students who are currently enrolled in an accredited two or four-year university that have an interest in the field of energy or the environment are welcome to apply by August 25, 2013.

“There is a clear connection between my educational and life experiences and how I, with the help of others, have applied those lessons to get to where I am today,” said David Hernandez, co-founder & CEO of Liberty Power. “Now, we at Liberty Power are proud to support promising young minds in their own educational pursuits.”

For more information on the Bright Horizons Scholarship program, please visit:

About Liberty Power
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Liberty Power is the largest independent retail electric supplier in the United Statesbased on 2013 KEMA rankings of electric retailers. The company is also the first certified, minority-owned supplier with a national footprint, and the largest Hispanic-owned energy company in the United States according to Hispanic Business. Liberty Power provides large and small businesses, government agencies and residential customers with low-cost electricity and exceptional customer service.

For more information on Liberty Power, please visit  

Liberty Power is a registered trademark of Liberty Power Corp. LLC, whose subsidiaries are certified and licensed to provide retail electric service by the PUC / PSC of CA, CT, DC, DE, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TX and VA.

About the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of nearly 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that generate $465 billion annually. It also serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local Hispanic chambers in the United States and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit

About the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation
The USHCC Foundation is committed to giving Hispanic entrepreneurs life-long learning by developing and implementing initiatives and educational campaigns to awaken and nurture their entrepreneurial spirit. The Foundation leverages corporate and public support to ensure that existing and aspiring Latino entrepreneurs gain access and achieve success in the world of business. Please visit for more information on the USHCC Foundation.

Dorm Survival 101: School Supplies

Dorm Survival 101: School Supplies
Back to pencils, back to books, try to avoid teacher’s dirty looks. Liberty Power’s Dorm Survival Guide wouldn’t be complete without some necessary school supply suggestions:

  • Backpack – One strap, two strap, messenger bag… the choice is yours, but whatever your style, you’ll definitely need some sort of school bag to carry your stuff across campus.
  • Calculator – You may not be studying to be a mathematician, but most majors require you take at least one math class. Don’t be that kid counting on his fingers… put a calculator in your backpack.
  • iPad/Tablet and Accessories – Travel light. iPads and other tablets bring the capacity of a laptop to a much more compact tool. From utilizing it in class as a note taker/voice recorder device to making use of the many apps in your downtime between classes, it’ll make your life easier and your backpack lighter.
  • Laptop – Paper notebooks are SO high school! Having a laptop also takes you out of the library and into the park or campus café for study sessions. Another perk… your days of trying to decipher chicken scratch notes and smudges are over.
  • Notebooks – For some, writing actual notes helps them to better remember information. After all, repetition is key! Plus, you never know when the battery will die in your laptop or tablet. Notebooks also serve as a creative outlet for those who like to doodle in the margins… or passing notes in class… not that we condone that or anything.
  • Pens/Pencils – Writing utensils are a must! You can get as colorful as you want! With the myriad of options out there, you’ll never be out of ways to spruce up those class notes.
  • Voice Recorder – Don’t miss another word! Bring your voice recorder to class and take bets on exactly what was said by your professors. Just make sure you have permission before recording anyone.

One more thing… don’t forget a few USB cords and the appropriate chargers. Tablets and laptops do you no good when their batteries give out… and it’s always at the most inconvenient times too. Check out the wireless keyboards and mouse options too. Many stores still have school supplies on sale… go stock up!

Next week, we’ll talk about all the ways to lighten up… your dorm room that is.

Dorm Survival 101: Electronics

It’s time to energize that tired ole dorm room! Operation: Power Up is a glimpse into some of the electronics you’ll want to pack to take you from getting to early morning classes on time through enjoying downtime with friends.

  • Alarm Clock – Being on time is an admirable trait. The key is in knowing how many times you can hit snooze and still not be late!
  • DVD/Blu-Ray Player – Movie nights are almost a certainty! Having a DVD or Blu-Ray player may even help when those books you were assigned to read are also in movie form… not that you should skip reading the books… but as more of a…study aid…
  • Gaming Systems – Sometimes it helps to get your mind off of the more serious matters and focus on something a bit more lighthearted. Plus, challenging your friends at Just Dance on the Wii is a guaranteed good time!
  • Stereo System/iPod/MP3 Player – If music is your escape, then definitely don’t forget your favorite audio system. You can listen to some tunes on the way to class or pop on some headphones to drown out your tuba-playing roommate.
  • Television – Whether it’s the news or the latest installment of Maury, make sure to pack a TV that’s compact enough to fit into your dorm room. You may want to rethink that large 60 inch until you have a living room.
  • Cell Phone – It’s 9pm, do you know where your cell phone is? Skip the mini heart attack and pick a brightly colored case so you can easily find your most utilize possession in the pile of clothes/papers/empty chip bags…
  • Camera – Capturing these moments will bring joy for a lifetime to come! Enjoy every second, live up every moment, and capture every memory. Don’t forget to bring your camera, a memory card and a battery charger.

Stay tuned for more of Liberty Power’s Dorm Survival Guide on Thursday. We’ll give you the low down on the  school supplies to help you make the grade.

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