By Cameron Chai
A study to enhance the energy output from microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was conducted by the researchers at the University of Colorado Denver.
The research group showed that the amount of energy produced increased by over 70 times and offered enhanced energy efficiency. The usage of MFCs is increasing greatly, where bacteria are used to produce power using biodegradable materials like marine sediments or wastewater.
Normally, the energy produced from a single MFC reactor is very low for power usage. Hence, the researchers created a harvesting system to extract electrons from bacteria. Further, the findings demonstrated that the energy output and energy efficiency are enhanced by 76 and 21 times, respectively, when compared to a charge pump.
According to the Assistant Professor of the CU Denver's College of Engineering and Applied Science, Dr. Zhiyong (Jason) Ren, the novel approach alters the general belief on MFCs and may modify remote sensing or waste treatment to a great extent.
Dr. Jae-Do Park, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, CU Denver, who designed the prototype system and harvesting scheme for MFCs, stated that direct usage of energy output from a MFC reactor is not easy. Hence, control systems are vital for MFCs and this prototype has improved energy harvest.
The study titled "Active Energy Harvesting from Microbial Fuel Cells at the Maximum Power Point without Using Resistors" has been published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology.