A team of scientists at Amrita School of Biotechnology in Kerala has developed a technology to generate power from sewage water. Called Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), the technology is in its early stages of execution but has the potential to provide an alternate source of energy.
MFC is basically a biochemical reactor that uses the metabolism of microorganisms in sewage water to convert the chemical energy of feedstock into electricity.
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“MCFs can produce electricity from organic waste water. The waste water acts as a substrate for the microorganisms. Microbial digestion of the organic waste will generate electrons which the MFC can harvest,” Ajith Madhavan, Senior Lecturer at Amrita School of Biotechnology told Hindustan Times.
He added the process also leads to the treatment of sewage water, making it suitable for harmless discharge. So the MFC acts as an energy generator and a bioremediation unit – meaning a unit that uses microorganisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants.
According to Ajith, if they scale up MFCs using appropriate technology, the generated power can be exported to the utility grid directly, or can be used for individual units to power rural lighting systems, mobile phones, etc.