From Microbial Fuel Cell To MEC Using Anode Bacteria-Homo-acetogens

A continuing development on microbial fuel cell from using Stainless steel bristle brush as catalyst instead of platinum to now specialized bacteria. Dr. Prathap Parameswaranin of Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University uses Microbial Electrochemical Cell or MEC to facilitate bacterial respiration as a means of liberating hydrogen electrons. Once these electrons are released this can be used to generate current and make clean electricity.

Microbial Fuel Cell

The bacteria are grown in the Mason jar-sized positive chamber of the MEC called anode. To grow these bacteria they can be feed with waste materials such as livestock manure or other farm waste. While munching on their food and growing they will be transferring electrons onto the electrode to make electricity.

Anode Respiring Bacteria below

Anode Respiring Bacteria

Another interesting process that happens when these bacteria are fed with organic compounds is that it establishes relationship or syntrophy with homo-acetogens present in the organic feeds -the fermenters, and other anode respiring bacteria (ARB). With the help of a chemical 2-bromoethane, such collaboration performs selective inhibitions of methanogens - hydrogen consuming microbes, thereby increasing hydrogen production efficiency.

Dr. Parameswaran says, "We were able to establish that these homo-acetogens can prevail and form relationships." he further explains that their next focus is on sustaining such syntrophic relations between homo-acetogens and anode bacteria in the absence of chemical inhibitors.

Dr. Prathap Parameswaran below

Dr. Prathap Parameswaran showing microbial mix

The discovery of these specialized bacteria (sometimes known as electric microbes) for fuel cell application opens the possibility of wastewater treatment and clean energy generation. Exciting!

"...represent a completely new method of renewable energy recovery: the direct conversion of organic matter to electricity using bacteria. While this sounds more like science fiction than science, it has been known for many years that bacteria could be used to generate electricity."  Source:

They also have a live cam of this process.  I visited there but it didn't seem to work. "This is a real-time video of a fan powered by a Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC)" 

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