DTU breaks new ground in Microbial Fuel Cell technology  

2009.03.17
Research at the Technical University of Denmark's (DTU) department of environmental engineering has led to the patenting of a new kind of microbial fuel cell that produces electricity from waste water
Research at the Technical University of Denmark's (DTU) department of environmental engineering has led to the patenting of a new kind of microbial fuel cell that produces electricity from waste water, while at the same time partially purifying the water, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
 
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are not new. It has been known for some time that a certain class of microorganisms called exoelectrogenic bacteria can produce protons and electrons from many different kinds of substrates including organic debris in waste water. With the use of a suitable anode, cathode and ion exchange membrane, this bacterial activity can be turned into an electric current.
 
Until now, MFCs have required the use of an additional chamber besides the waste water tank. But DTU's design doesn't need an extra chamber, and the MFC can simply be lowered into the waste water tank - in principal a simpler and therefore potentially cheaper solution for producing electricity.
 
At present the development of the single chamber MFC system is on laboratory scale. The next step will be to test the concept at pilot scale, for which the DTU team has been granted DKK 2 million in funding. Further work will also be carried out into finding the best available strain of exoelectrogenic bacteria for the purpose.
 
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