When a nerve signal is sent, potassium ions flood out of nerve cells and sodium ions flood in. Both of these ions have slightly different charges and so the difference in concentrations inside and outside the nerve cell of the ions means that a charge is created inside the nerve cell.
It uses anaerobic micro-organisms to digest on the cellulose of grass, to be converted into electricity and water in a microbial fuel cell.
While the production of liquid ethanol relies on the energy-intensive farming of starch-rich corn, electric power plants could run on bamboolike grasses and other woody plants. Some varieties now in development are impressively high-yielding. At the University of Illinois, Stephen Long, a crop scientist, is exploring the properties of a tall grass called Miscanthus, a sterile hybrid (that cannot take over the landscape like kudzu) of two Japanese mountain grasses. The grass is already in use in electric power plants in Britain. Long's research reveals that the cost of Miscanthus production would be competitive with coal, but it comes with several advantages. Unlike corn, it is a perennial and so yields a generous crop each year without replanting. It is also nitrogen-conserving, meaning that it doesn't deplete nutrients from the soil. "Miscanthus also grows in a wide variety of soils and needs little fertilizer and no pesticide," Long says. "It also grows well on lands otherwise prone to erosion and flooding." American switch grass is another crop that may find its way to electric power plants.
Using organisms in the soil to create a chemical reaction that results in a tiny electric charge to give this grass a pulsating glowing heartbeat. The chemistry it relies on to keep moving is actually more between the mud and metal.
Added some common mud to jars of water and placed a carbon electrode in the mud and a second carbon electrode in the water. The resulting electrical current was strong enough to power a lightbulb or even a simple computer.