Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity. As bacteria oxidizes organic matter, electrons -- rather than the hydrogen or methane that other methods rely upon -- are produced and run from an anode to a cathode within the device to create an electric current.
The biodegradable characteristics of wastewater, if tapped to their full potential, could theoretically provide many times the energy that is now being used to process them, with no additional greenhouse emissions.
The findings have been published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
For more details, see Oregon State University