Energy from Slime? Power from Microbial Fuel Cells
Koichi Nishio, Atsushi Kouzuma, Souichiro Kato and Kazuya Watanabe
from: Microbial Biofilms: Current Research and Applications (Edited by: Gavin Lear and Gillian D. Lewis). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that exploit microbial catabolic activities to generate electricity from a variety of starting materials, including complex organic waste and renewable biomass. The use of these energy sources provides MFCs with a great advantage over chemical fuel cells that utilize only purified reactive fuels (e.g., hydrogen). In an MFC bioreactor, microbes that respire using an anode with organics as electron donors grow preferentially, resulting in accelerated and increased current generation with time. The placement of an anode in either soil or sediment represents a simplified MFC system, known as a sediment MFC, which generates current as soil microbes utilize the anode as an electron acceptor. In addition, the irradiation of an MFC system results in the proliferation of photosynthetic microbes together with anode-respiring microbes, resulting in the syntrophic conversion of light energy into electricity. These examples demonstrate that the MFC system is based on a variety of fundamental and sustainable bioenergy processes, and we suggest that a deeper understanding of how microbes transfer electrons to anodes is essential for further developments of MFC systems read more ...