Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) harness electrons from the metabolic reactions of microorganisms to generate an electrical current. The microbes utilise organic material in the medium and successful power generation has been achieved using a range of sources including; acetate, dead flies and domestic wastewater. Recent research using the latter has revealed the potential for application into the water industry, where wastewater can be treated at the same time as power is generated. This research venture aims to develop a continuous flow MFC system capable of long-term use in a water-treatment plant.
There is already a solid platform of MFC research in place at BRL and this project will utilise the technology and look to develop further with the specific aim of wastewater treatment. This development will look at optimizing the architectural design, the operational parameters and the selection of efficient robust microbial consortia capable of metabolizing the target compounds present in effluent samples. Wastewater is heterogeneous and will vary in organic content from location to location. In addition the organismâ€™s environment will differ depending on where the MFC system operates and so it may transpire that microbial consortia need to be â€˜customizedâ€™ to reflect the conditions they work in and organic components they encounter.