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Oregon State University - fuel cells on waste
Fuel Cells, Aug  31  2012 (The Hydrogen Journal)

- Engineers at Oregon State University, USA, are developing fuel cells which use microbes on waste water, and generate power at the same time.

The team is led by Hong Liu, an associate professor of biological and ecological engineering at Oregon State University.

According to a recent article in the Energy and Environmental Science Journal, the microbial fuel cell was operated for 63 days continuously, and it "demonstrates that the excellent performance of CEA-MFCs (double cloth electrode assemblies - microbial fuel cells) can be further improved during scale-up."

"The results demonstrate the great potential of MFC technology in competing with methanogenic anaerobic digestion for waste-to-electricity and wastewater treatment," the researchers say.

In an interview with the New York Times, Ms Liu said that one aim was to build a system by stacking fuel cells together, which would hold about 20 litres, enough to be used in parts of the world which do not have a central system for collecting and treating sewage.

If the system can generate electricity as well as treat sewage, then it could ultimately replace the current digesters which are used around the world for municipal sewage.

Energy and Environmental Science Journal article






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