Raw sewage stinks, but did you know it is actually a hot commodity? Gaseous wastewater has the potential to be converted into energy-packed biofuel, powering city facilities worldwide. Soon, that noxious wastewater you’ve held your breath over could help power your home appliances through microbial fuel cell batteries!
Currently in development by environmental engineer Bruce Logan, the fuel cells contain organic-waste hungry bacteria. As they eat their way through the wastewater, they create their own waste, pooping out electrons. The fuel cells collect the electron waste on carbon bristles. They are then free to move through a circuit, creating energy to power anything around the house –lamps, fans, you name it. Logan’s fuel cells also produce hydrogen, which can potentially be used to fuel hydrogen powered vehicles in the future.
Logan has been experimenting with the viability of the fuel cells for everyday use, having reached a turning point by using affordable materials, rather than expensive precious metals. Logan, and other researchers, plan to continue working with waste-eating fuel cells. Currently, they can’t produce enough power our daily needs, but he forecasts their power to be amplified to completely run wastewater treatment plants, plus produce enough electricity for a community, if research continues as planned over the next decade.
Waste is already commonly converted back into power. Beer companies are using waste hops as biofuel, cities are using sewage gas to help power utilities, so it is only a matter of time before waste can efficiently fill the need for power in our homes.
Via Fast Company