“A microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a device that uses germs to directly convert waste organic matter into electrical energy,” explains Dr. Chabra.
Dr. Minu Chabra, a researcher at the Environmental Biotechnology Lab at the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur, led by the Department of Bioscience and Bioengineering, proved for the first time that plant-based microbiology. In algae-based systems. The results of their work have been sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, Government. India, through the Inspire PhD Fellowship Scheme, has recently been published in the Journal of Bioresource Technology. The paper is co-authored by Aarti Sharma, Sanjana Gajviye, Swetha Chauhan and Dr. Chabra.
Wastewater treatment is an important activity in any civilized society, and the increasing production of large quantities of domestic wastewater requires the development of new treatment methods that are energy efficient and measurable. Organic waste materials have a lot of latent energy – nine times more energy than domestic waste treatment – there is a worldwide interest in generating energy from waste during the process of waste treatment.
Although the idea of using germs for power generation was proposed by Michael Potter, professor of botany at the University of Durham in early 1911, its use in fuel cells promises a recent development and solution to two separate problems – waste treatment and energy production. In MFCs, living organisms work on waste organic matter to release electrons extracted with external loads, resulting in energy generation.
Photosynthetic MFCs use algae or plants to produce oxygen from waste at the cathode of the fuel cell. Algae-based systems have been extensively studied in recent years because algae grow quickly and easily but are sensitive to cultivation conditions. Plant systems are slower to build and have less efficiency than algae-based MFCs but are more powerful.
The IIT Jodhpur team has studied aspects such as microbial community analysis, long-term operation, rhizosphere characterization and design optimization to further explore microbial fuel cells and realize MFC’s potential in wastewater treatment and alternative power generation.