A prototype fuel cell has been developed that uses microbes to generate electricity while cleaning wastewater.
The prototype, developed by researchers at Pennsylvania State University could usher in a “completely new approach” to wastewater treatment, say its inventors.
Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of fuel such as hydrogen directly into electricity.
In a microbial fuel cell, bacteria metabolize their food—in this case, organic matter from wastewater—to release electrons that yield a steady electrical current.
The single-chambered microbial fuel cell that the researchers have developed is essentially a Plexiglas cylinder about the size of a soda bottle.