Proceedings

A comparison of different sewage sludges used in microbial fuel cells for energy generation

Ömeroğlu, S.1 and Sanin F.D.1

1Middle East Technical University, Department of Environmental Engineering, Turkey

(free)

Abstract

Today, the majority of the global energy demand is being provided using fossil fuels. However, the growing population and industrialization creates an extreme pressure on the natural energy resources including petroleum and coal, leading to energy insecurity. In addition to the exploitation of resources, the current energy practices also pollute the environment and it becomes mandatory to investigate low carbon emission, sustainable and renewable energy technologies. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are one of these sustainable energy technologies which convert the chemical energy present in the bonds of organic matter into electricity via microbial degradation. Sewage sludges are perfect candidates to be used as fuel in MFCs due to their high organic content and therefore energy potential. In a conventional wastewater treatment plant, half of the operational expenses arise from the sludge stabilization processes. Therefore, producing energy from sludge during stabilization using MFCs is a sustainable practice. The objective of this study is to compare the energy potential of different types of digested sludges via monitoring the power output of a dual chamber MFC based on continuous current and voltage measurements using a digital multimeter and optimize the operational conditions and materials used in MFC to enhance energy production.

Keywords

Bioenergy, dual chamber microbial fuel cell, electricity generation, power density, sewage sludge, sludge stabilization.

Introduction

Growing population and rising energy needs will soon consume the existing energy resources such as petroleum and coal. The energy crisis is a result of this unconscious exploitation and raises concerns about energy in the near future. The energy insecurity also poses a serious threat to global economy. Beyond these, the current energy production facilities and their activities release significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere via the combustion of fossil fuels and contribute the global warming (Langan et.al., 2011). That’s why, especially within the last decade, significant efforts have been devoted by researchers to investigate and develop alternative technologies of renewable and sustainable energy to overcome the environmental and economic challenges (Lovley, 2006; Davis and Higson, 2007; Du et.al., 2007).

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