New energy sources II: Microbial fuel cells

Monday, October 29th, 8:30 am - 10:30 am
Room 305AB
Bruce E. Logan

In the U.S., 5% of the electricity we produce is consumed by our water and wastewater infrastructure. The high cost of the energy needed to treat wastewater is one reason that 2 billion people in the world lack adequate sanitation. What if you could use the bacteria in farm, industrial or domestic effluents to create energy? Bruce Logan says this idea is no pipedream. He specializes in creating microbial fuel cells. In an MFC, bacteria are placed in an anaerobic environment that forces them to oxidize their food (say, the organic matter in wastewater) by transferring electrons not to oxygen but to an electrode. The output of this process can be either hydrogen gas or electricity. Logan is now working on scaling up this technology to demonstrate it in the field.

Attendees who register at the CASW website can download background material and the presentation at