Money Matters - Simplified

New technological boom! Electricity can be generated from waste water.

Brilliant Engineers from the Oregon State University have finally burst through in the microbial fuel cells performance that can lead to the generation of electricity using waste water directly. This can lead to a boom in the production of electricity in future as the waste treatment plants can actively help in selling electricity besides producing electricity for the waste plant.

The new technology

The new expertise at the OSU can help in generating 10-50 times more electricity per volume than the old way of using microbial fuel cells and nearly 100 times extra electricity than other ways. Waste water treatments will now undergo major changes changing the traditional “activated sludge“ process. The latest study can lead to production of a huge amount of electricity while efficiently carrying out a clean-out process of the wastewater.

The research findings

"If this technology works on a commercial scale the way we believe it will, the treatment of wastewater could be a huge energy producer, not a huge energy cost," stated Hong Liu, associate professor in the OSU Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering. "This could have an impact around the world, save a great deal of money, provide better water treatment and promote energy sustainability."

Science experts have evidence that 3 % of the consumption of electricity in the U.S and other developed nations is utilized in waste water treatment. Another worrisome fact is that the electricity that is obtained by the burning of the fossil fuels has a major hand in global warming.

The eco-friendly character of wastewater, if exploited to the maximum potential could lead to the production of large amounts of electricity without any extra greenhouse emissions. OSU researchers reported several years ago on the promise of this technology, but at that time the systems in use produced far less electrical power.

With the new concepts by the OSU researchers’ condensed anode-cathode spacing, developed microbes and new separator equipment has struck gold with the new technology that can now give out liquid reactor volume that can be calculated to be more than two kilowatts per cubic meter. The waste water is treated effectively and does not lead to the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane or hydrogen sulphide.

“Continued research should also find even more optimal use of necessary microbes, reduced material costs and improved function of the technology at commercial scales,” said the OSU scientists. Liu stated that OSU system has led to a large amount of electricity in the lab confines and now they are going to go for a pilot study. The use of microbes for commercial production of electricity has been done only now.