October 20, 2008

Pressure pumps up microbe power

Increase the pressure in a microbial fuel cell slightly and you can significantly boost the power it produces.

Increasing air pressure in the cathode chamber of a microbial fuel cell 17 percent above atmospheric pressure increases the cell's power density from 4.29 to 7.29 watts per cubic meter, a 70 percent increase.

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 material like municipal wastewater.

Research paper:
Microbial Fuel Cell Performance with a Pressurized Cathode Chamber
Environmental Science and Technology, published online October 15, 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Researchers' homepages:
The Angenent Lab
Michael A. Cotta

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

Back to ERN October 20/27, 2008



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