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Microbial fuel cell insights bring practical poo power closer to reality

Barb Dybwad
January 5, 2008
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It's been a while since we had an update from the exciting frontier of microbial fuel cell technology, but researchers at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute report a recent breakthrough in understanding exactly why bacteria seem to enjoy donating their electrons for the potential betterment of gadgetkind. The ASU team developed an equation that describes the relationship between the rate of bacterial metabolism and the electrical potential of the fuel cell, enabling a much more accurate model of how an MFC actually works. The researchers are working with this information to optimize fuel cell performance and power output, which to date has been disappointingly inefficient. Before long, we could totally be taking it for granted that our robotic underlings are powered by beer and poo.

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