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Microbial Fuel Cells Update
Jamais Cascio, 23 Jun 04

Back in February, we reported on research at Penn State creating microbial fuel cells -- MFCs -- which produced power by cleaning domestic wastewater. As is typical for such posts, we made sure to mention that this was early stage stuff, not yet ready for deployment, but with updates sure to follow.

Well, follow they have. Last week, the Penn State engineers reported that they've managed to boost the electricity output by nearly six times while cutting the cost by two-thirds. They also demonstrated MFCs in action by connecting a unit to a three milliwatt fan (video here, 5.2mb mpeg). In principle, the MFC could power the fan using less than a teacup of wastewater.

Every now and then we hit upon a story which really feels like a glimpse into the desired future. The idea of using microbes to simultaneously clean the water supply and generate power is almost too good to be true. But it's in the labs now, and it's getting closer to the real world every day.

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This is interesting. I have been working on waste water treatment combined with energy production in the form of bioenergy. With modesty I have to admit that, I had been extremely successful. The data was not published as the sponsosring agencies of the project had planned to take up a patent on it. Nevertheless, clean, green energy is here to come and stay. Hope we will leave behind cleaner, greener and renewable environment to our children.
Wish to interact for more information exchange in this regard.

Posted by: Dr. Meenakshi Sundaram on 10 Jul 04



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