Microbial fuel cell
Melnyk, Ryan A. Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Coates, John D. Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Last reviewed:July 2020
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- Fundamentals of MFC design and operation
- Mechanisms of electron transfer
- Microbial ecology of MFCs
- Applications of MFC technology
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A device that is capable of converting chemical energy into electrical energy with the use of whole bacterial cells as the catalyst. Fuels that are produced biologically are known as biofuels. Biofuel cells convert chemical energy from organic materials to electrical energy using processes that are catalyzed by biological substances, including microorganisms and enzymes. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) use entire microorganisms as microreactors; that is, MFCs produce electrical energy from organic materials using electrochemical processes that are catalyzed by microorganisms (Fig. 1). Moreover, the ability of microorganisms to produce electrochemically active substances eliminates the need to isolate individual enzymes for energy conversion. Thus, the active biomaterials can work under conditions close to their natural environment, allowing for the production of energy at a high efficiency. See also: Bacteria; Bacterial physiology and metabolism; Biofuel cells; Electrochemical process; Energy; Energy conversion; Fuel cell; Genetically engineering microbes to produce second-generation biofuels; Industrial microbiology; Microbiology
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