Common, everyday waste water contains quite a bit of energy, as this research project shows. Young scientists and artists got together in workshops to experiment with microbial fuel cells, and then tested these “living batteries” in various environments. In sewage, they hit pay dirt! It turns out that this liquid material contains just the right substances to satisfy microorganisms’ energy needs. When bacteria come into contact with it, they produce electrons that are attracted to the electrodes in the sewage. The upshot: chemical energy is transformed into electrical current. Continuous measurements deliver audible and visible impressions of this form of electricity generation by micro-organisms, and of its fluctuations. Someday, this technology could be used to upgrade waste treatment facilities into power plants producing renewable energy.
Credits: Rasa Šmite (LV), Raitis Šmits (LV), Voldemars Johansons (LV) in collaboration with Martins Ratniks (LV), RIXC, 2012