ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fuel Cell Uses Microbes to Produce Renewable Electricity From Sewage Water

Updated on September 30, 2018
Rock_nj profile image

I thoroughly enjoy writing, especially about environmental issues and how to make the environment we live in better for everyone.

Microbial Fuel Cell Diagram

A Microbial Fuel Cell Converts Waste Sewage Water Into Electricity
A Microbial Fuel Cell Converts Waste Sewage Water Into Electricity | Source

Using Microbes To Produce Renewable Electricity From Sewage Water

Scientists at the Rockville, Maryland based Craig Venter Institute revealed a microbial fuel cell that uses microbes to produce renewable electricity from sewage water. The scientists claim that the microbial fuel cell can convert up to 13 percent of the potential energy stored in sewage water into electricity that can be used to offset the electricity demands of a sewagetreatment plant and could also assist in the treatment of sewage water.

How a Fuel Cell Uses Microbes To Produce Renewable Electricity From Sewage Water

A microbial fuel cell makes use of naturally occurring microbes within sewage water to collect electrons and protons that are produced by the microbes as they metabolize (digest) the organic waste contained in sewage water. The electrons produced by the microbes are collected in an anode container, while the protons produced by the microbes filter through a permeable membrane within the fuel cell to a separate cathode container. The difference in charge between the anode and cathode containers creates voltage between the two containers (electrodes) that results in a useful electric current.

When the microbes metabolize the organic waste contained in sewage water to produce electricity, they also remove a significant amount of organic matter (approximately 97%), which could assist in the treatment of sewage water. There is the possibility that microbial fuel cells could be used as an alternative sewage water treatment method, while producing electricity as a side benefit.

The amount of electricity utilized by sewage treatment plants that treat sewage water is not an insignificant amount. It totals approximately two percent of the electricity used in the United States each year. If sewage treatment plants in the United States and around the world install microbial fuel cells to offset their electricity needs, they will not only lessen the demand for electricity by producing it on-site via a renewable resource, they will also save a considerable amount of money that is currently spent on purchasing electricity.

Using Nanotechnology: The Next Step In Microbial Fuel Cell Technology

A microbial fuel cell has two electrodes, a positive anode and a negative cathode. An electrical current is produced by a microbial fuel cell when a charge is passed between the two electrodes. Increasing the capability of an anode to transmit its charge to a cathode increases the electrical output of a microbial fuel cell.

Researchers at Oregon State University with the goal of increasing the efficiency and output of microbial fuel cells have developed a metal anode coating method that uses nanotechnology to dramatically increase the amount of electricity that is produced by microbial fuel cells.

Research has indicated that coating the graphite anodes in microbial fuel cells with a tiny nanoparticle scale layer of gold or palladium resulted in a dramatic increase in efficiency and electricity production from the fuel cells. Coating anodes with gold nanoparticles resulted in as much as twenty times more electricity output as microbial fuel cells with untreated anodes. Palladium nanoparticle anode coatings also increased the output of microbial fuel cells, but not as much as gold. Since both gold and palladium are expensive precious metals, researchers intend to look at less costly metals, such as iron, for use as nanoparticle anodes treatments to increase electricity output from microbial fuel cells.

Sewage Treatment Plant: A Future Renewable Energy Source

Microbial Fuel Cells Could Be Net Energy Producers

If the electricity conversion efficiency of microbial fuel cells can be increased to between twenty and twenty-five percent of the potential energy stored in sewage water, then these innovative fuel cells could produce enough electricity to provide all of the electricity sewage treatment plants require to operate. Any efficiency gains beyond this break-even level would be excess renewable electricity that could be sold to other electricity consumers through the power grid.

Using microbes to produce renewable electricity from sewage water is a clean and green energy technology that could have a substantial impact on both the reduction of the cost of sewage water treatment and the production of renewable energy.

MudWatt Microbial Fuel Cell - How It Works

Innovative Wastewater Treatment Solutions Uses Microbial Fuel Cell

© 2012 John Coviello


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)