Dr Godfrey Kyazze, Reader in Bioprocess Technology, wrote an article for The Conversation about how microbial fuel cells could revolutionise electricity production in the future.

Digital concept of cell network in the shape of a tree
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In the article, Dr Kyazze wrote about how most of our current energy is generated by fossil fuels, which creates major hurdles when it comes to providing sustainable electricity and mitigating climate change.

He spoke about the idea of generating electricity using bacteria in devices called microbial fuel cells (MFCs), and wrote: “These fuel cells rely on the ability of certain naturally occurring microorganisms that have the ability to ‘breathe’ metals, exchanging electrons to create electricity. This process can be fueled using substances called substrates, which include organic materials found in wastewater.” 

He added: “At the moment, microbial fuel cells are able to generate electricity to power small devices such as calculators, small fans and LEDs – in our lab we powered the lights on a mini Christmas tree using ‘simulated wastewater’. But if the technology is scaled up, it holds great promise.

Talking about the advantages of generating electricity from these cells, he wrote: “Generating electricity through MFCs has a large number of advantages: systems can be set up anywhere, they create less ‘sludge’ than conventional methods of wastewater treatment such as activated sludge systems, they can be small-scale yet a modular design can be designed to build bigger systems, they have a high tolerance to salinity, and they can operate at room temperature.”

Read the full article on The Conversation’s website.

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