Small-scale electricity generation using cow manure microbial fuel cells



O'Toole, Cairan

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University of Guelph


Humanity is in the midst of a fossil fuel dependency that may leave it unable to adequately respond to future energy needs. As the number of inhabitants on earth increases, it is vital to find methods of energy generation coupled with organic waste utilization that are sustainable. This thesis is an investigation of manure microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology. Manure MFCs offer an additional opportunity to gain value with little reduction in the manure's soil building value, while concurrently reducing the manure's pollution potential. A variety of factors affecting power generation were investigated including ionic strength, temperature, suitable electrodes, and substrate consistency, all of which impact internal resistance. A scaleable MFC model was constructed based on knowledge gleaned from the pilot stage and was able to generated power densities as high as 5.46 mW/m2 with peak power of 85 W. MFCs can be utilised to trickle charge ultracapacitors for battery operated applications.



cow manure, microbial fuel cells, electricity generation, small-scale, power generation