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Förslaget inkom 2006-02-06

Electricity from wastewater - Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC)

The effects of global warming and the depletion of the fossil fuels has led to an enormous amount of research in the field of alternative electricity production methods. New electricity production processes need to be neutral with respect to carbon dioxide production and have to use renewables (e.g. energy crops) as raw materials. Furthermore, they need to be cost-effective compared to the conventional, non-sustainable methods (e.g. coal combustion).

It has been known for several years that bacteria can be used to generate bio-electricity that can be harvested in microbial fuel cells. Bio-electricity is actually a new approach to the development of a society based on sustainable energy. Some microorganisms are capable of using electrodes as an indirect electron acceptor, instead of using for example oxygen as a direct electron acceptor. This principle allows for a biofuel cell process setup: bio-degradable material is converted into carbon dioxide, protons and electrons in the anodic compartment. In the cathodic compartment, electrons are transferred to oxygen and combined with protons. An electrical circuit, through which the electrons are transported, connects the electrodes. The protons migrate through a proton permeable membrane, which separates the compartments. The overall reaction is combustion of the bio-degradable material to carbon dioxide and water, with electricity as a product.

Because the Gibbs energy for oxidization of bio-degradable material is not converted into heat first (as with coal combustion for example), but directly into electricity, the Carnot cycle is avoided and theoretically high energy yields can be achieved (> 70%). If raw material streams are then used (e.g. wastewater), a sustainable electricity production process is achieved capable of producing a significant amount of the future electricity demand.

The goal of this master thesis work is to setup a lab-scale MFC and identify the critical parameters in biofuel cell process in order to be able to optimise the power and energy efficiency of the cell. The duration of this thesis work is about 20 weeks which is corresponding to 20 points. The successful candidate should be studying chemistry/chemical engineering or similar at the university level. Furthermore, basic knowledge in electrodes and electrochemistry is advantage.

Start: Autumn 2004


Informationen om uppsatsförslag är hämtad från Nationella Exjobb-poolen.