Mozart for microbes in German sewage plant

Opera used to help break down waste


The so-called ‘Mozart effect’, credited with increasing the intelligence of babies, has found a new audience.


A pioneering German sewage plant is piping Mozart opera to waste-eating microbes in a bid to increase their efficiency and lower costs. Initial tests at the centre in Treuenbrietzen, south-west of Berlin, suggest that the music stimulates the microbes, encouraging a faster breakdown of biomass.

Anton Stucki, chief operator at the centre, says the secret is in the music’s vibrations. ‘They penetrate everything – including the water, the sewage and the cells,’ he says in The Guardian. ‘It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them work better.’

Stucki has developed a state-of-the-art sound system to pipe music to the microorganisms, replicating a concert hall sound. While no conclusive results are available yet, the plant anticipates savings of up to £831 (€1000).

But why do the microbes respond so well? Stucki believes the answer is simple: ‘Mozart managed to transpose universal laws of nature into his music. It has an effect on people of every age and background. So why not on microbes? After all, they’re living organisms just like us’.


Rebecca Thumpston