Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 446, 227328

Microbial Fuel Cells Directly Powering a Microcomputer

Affiliations

Microbial Fuel Cells Directly Powering a Microcomputer

Xavier Alexis Walter et al. J Power Sources.

Abstract

Many studies have demonstrated that microbial fuel cells (MFC) can be energy-positive systems and power various low power applications. However, to be employed as a low-level power source, MFC systems rely on energy management circuitry, used to increase voltage levels and act as energy buffers, thus delivering stable power outputs. But stability comes at a cost, one that needs to be kept minimal for the technology to be deployed into society. The present study reports, for the first time, the use of a MFC system that directly and continuously powered a small application without any electronic intermediary. A cascade comprising four membrane-less MFCs modules and producing an average of 62 mA at 2550 mV (158 mW) was used to directly power a microcomputer and its screen (Gameboy Color, Nintendo®). The polarisation experiment showed that the cascade produced 164 mA, at the minimum voltage required to run the microcomputer (ca. 1.850 V). As the microcomputer only needed ≈70 mA, the cascade ran at a higher voltage (2.550 V), thus, maintaining the individual modules at a high potential (>0.55 V). Running the system at these high potentials helped avoid cell reversal, thus delivering a stable level of energy without the support of any electronics.

Keywords: Direct power; Energy source; Membraneless microbial fuel cell; Practical applications; Urine.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
3D view of a single S-MFC module (a), and section view of the cascade of 4 modules and its electrical connections to the Game Boy Color that it powers (b). In (b) the hydraulic connections are represented in orange and the electrical connections in white.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Electrical output of the S-MFC stack comprising a single cascade of four modules. All four modules were electrically connected in parallel and maintained under potentiostatic conditions at 450 mV.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Electrical output of the S-MFC stack comprising a single cascade of four modules. All four modules were electrically connected in series and maintained under potentiostatic conditions at 1800 mV.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
(a) Picture of the four modules directly powering a GBC. (b) Electrical output of the system comprising a single cascade of four S-MFC modules directly connected to a Game Boy Color. All four modules were electrically connected in series. Current is the amount drawn by the GBC, whilst the voltage is the measured value of each module and of the cascade. The power was calculated using the drawn current and the cascade voltage. * stands for the interruption during which a cascade comprising only the three first modules were connected to the GBC (Fig. 5). The grey zones at T = 21 h and T = 87 indicate continuous gameplay.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Electrical output of a cascade comprising the three first S-MFC modules electrically connected in series. The grey zones indicate when the GBC was ON.
Fig. 6
Fig. 6
Power and polarisation curves of the 4-modules cascade depending on the feeding conditions: either under a feeding regime of 2L.6 h−1 (cascade HRT of 82.83 h; a and c) or completely filled with fresh fuel (b and d). (a) and (b) show the voltage and power curves of the cascades. (c) and (d) show the voltage of each individual module during the polarisation experiment.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

References

    1. Potter M.C. Electrical effects accompanying the decomposition of organic compounds. Proc. R. Soc. Biol. Sci. 1911;84:260–276.
    1. Santoro C., Arbizzani C., Erable B., Ieropoulos I. Microbial fuel cells: from fundamentals to applications. A review. J. Power Sources. 2017;356:225–244. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Ewing T., Babauta J.T., Atci E., Tang N., Orellana J., Heo D., Beyenal H. Self-powered wastewater treatment for the enhanced operation of a facultative lagoon. J. Power Sources. 2014;269:284–292.
    1. Dong Y., Qu Y.P., He W.H., Du Y., Liu J., Han X.Y., Feng Y.J. A 90-liter stackable baffled microbial fuel cell for brewery wastewater treatment based on energy self-sufficient mode. Bioresour. Technol. 2015;195:66–72. - PubMed
    1. Ieropoulos I., Stinchcombe A., Gajda I., Forbes S., Merino-Jimenez I., Pasternak G., Sanchez-Herranz D., Greenman J. Pee power urinal - microbial fuel cell technology field trials in the context of sanitation. Environ. Sci.-Wat. Res. Technol. 2016;2:336–343.

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback