October 20, 2008

Nanotubes crank up microbe power

Coat carbon nanotubes with platinum nanoparticles, add water, and you've got the key component of a microbial fuel cell that generates six times the power of previous microbial fuel cells.

A microbial fuel cell with carbon nanotube electrodes and an electrolyte of platinum-nanoparticle-covered carbon nanotubes in water has a power density of 2,470 milliwatts per square meter using E. coli bacteria. This is about six times the power density of a standard microbial fuel cell with graphite electrodes.

Microbial fuel cells generate power by harvesting electrons freed when microorganisms break down organic matter. Microbial fuel cells have the potential to generate small but useful amounts of electricity from waste materials like municipal wastewater.

Research paper:
Development of Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofluids Based Microbial Fuel Cell
International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, published online October 11, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
T.S. Chandra
S. Ramaprabhu

Related stories and briefs:
Bacteria make clean power -- precursor research

Back to ERN October 20/27, 2008



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