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Generating Electricity from Waste water

Tons and tons of waste dumped upon our mother earth each day. This waste not only causes damage to our environment but has health risk too. To use this water again, our governments are using water treatment plants. Project Idea we are going to discuss today would use these plants to power our homes.


We all know that, in nature different materials biodegrade at different rates. It is a chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria or other biological means. Bacteria in the presence of oxygen produce carbon dioxide and water, but when we stop the supply of oxygen they start to produce electrons and protons.  They were first found by Professor M.C. Potter in 1911. When we use them to generate electricity in a cell, this cell is called as Microbial fuel cell.

What is Microbial fuel cell?

Generating Electricity from Waste water
It consists of anode and cathode separated by ion exchange membrane. Ion exchange membrane allows exchange of ions between two electrolytes.

We had discussed about microbial fuel cell before. Today we will discuss how waste water can be used to feed the fuel cell while treating it.

How it works?

Waste water is placed in an isolated chamber to stop oxygen entering it, thus compelling the micro-organism to use anaerobic respiration. As a result, bacteria start producing electrons. These Electrons are transferred to the cathode compartment through an external electric circuit, while protons are transferred to the cathode compartment through the membrane. When we put resistance between them, we can produce electricity.
Explanation given in a video below would help you to understand this concept better.

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Unknown said...

please give complete details of this project I am doing mechanical engineering in 4th seem my email-lingarajgc102@gmail. com

CG said...

@lingaraj To understand waste water generator, you need to understand microbial fuel cell first where Microbes while respiring in the absense of oxygen, generate electrons and protons, i.e electricity. So, in this project we replace this source of respiring source to waste water, where microbes decompose the waste without oxygen and produce electricity. I hope that helps!