When we think about fuel for power plants, oil, coal and natural gas typically comes to mind. Now, try adding wastewater to that mix. In this video, Professor Bruce E Logan from Pennsylvania State University shows us a microbial fuel cell, a device that can extract the energy from wastewater and turn it into electricity.
The ability to use bacteria to generate electricity from wastewater has been known since the 1910s. However, interest in the microbial fuel cell only picked up in the 1960s, and today, many research groups worldwide are working on making microbial fuel cells practical for a number of applications like generating electricity and desalinating seawater.
To see some microbial fuel cells constructed from plastic bottles and Ziploc containers by middle and high school students, or to learn how to make your own, visit Professor Logan’s website at: engr.psu.edu/ce/enve/logan/bioenergy/mfc_make_cell.htm
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Video by XiaoZhi Lim
Produced by the American Chemical Society