Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Getting the dirt on carbon
Salamanders and Newts
Poison Dart Frogs
Missing Moose
Saving Africa's Wild Dogs
Helping the Cause of Macaws
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
From dipping to fishing
Brainy bees know two from three
Chemistry and Materials
Makeup Science
Sticky Silky Feet
Lighting goes digital
Batteries built by Viruses
Fingerprint Evidence
Graphene's superstrength
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Tiny Pterodactyl
Big Fish in Ancient Waters
Downsized Dinosaurs
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Detecting an Eerie Sea Glow
Farms sprout in cities
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Saving Wetlands
A 'Book' on Every Living Thing
Finding the Past
Of Lice and Old Clothes
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Childhood's Long History
Food and Nutrition
Recipe for Health
Packing Fat
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. Whom
Capitalization Rules
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Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Losing with Heads or Tails
Human Body
Heart Revival
Taste Messenger
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Asian Elephants
African Hippopotamus
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
How children learn
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Dreams of Floating in Space
Black Hole Journey
Einstein's Skateboard
A Giant Flower's New Family
Fast-flying fungal spores
Farms sprout in cities
Space and Astronomy
No Fat Stars
A Dusty Birthplace
Pluto's New Moons
Technology and Engineering
Algae Motors
A Light Delay
Toy Challenge
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Verb?
Charged cars that would charge
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Troubles with Hubble
Arctic Melt
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
A Change in Climate
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Drawing Energy out of Wastewater

Flush. Every time you go to the toilet, your waste gets carried away by water. Before it can be released into the environment, the wastewater has to be treated to remove solids and other contaminants. Now, environmental engineers from Pennsylvania State University have found a use for all that waste material—as an energy source. Using a type of energy generator called a fuel cell, they can break down plant and animal, or organic, waste and, in the process, produce electricity. Their technique could reduce the cost of treating water. Once you flush the toilet, you probably forget about whatever you just dumped in there. Every year, though, the United States alone spends $25 billion to clean up sewage. Many countries can't even afford to treat their water. The new fuel cell is a small plastic cylinder. Inside, eight rods made of graphite (the black stuff that's in a pencil) act as negative electrodes. The rods surround a hollow tube made of carbon and platinum, which acts as a positive electrode. When wastewater is pumped through the fuel cell, bacteria already present in the water stick to the graphite rods. As the microbes break down the organic matter in the water, they generate electricity. Current water treatment techniques are expensive because they use bacteria that need a steady supply of oxygen. The new process could be more efficient, equally effective, and much cheaper, the researchers say. With improvements, such a fuel cell could provide enough power to pump an entire community's sewage. Talk about powerful poop!—E. Sohn

Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater

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