Sewage water may soon become Kerala’s next source of electricity as a team of scientists has developed a technology to tap power generation from the same.
Developed by Amrita School of Biotechnology, the technology, called Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), converts chemical energy of feedstock into electricity by exploiting the metabolism of the microorganisms. Though the technology is still in its early stage, it offers great potential as an alternative to fossil fuel based energy generation.
Microbial Fuel Cells or MFCs is a biochemical reactor that relies on microbes for the production of power.
“MCFs can produce electricity from organic waste water. The waste water acts as a substrate for the microorganisms. Microbial digestion of the organic waste will generate electrons which the MFC can harvest. Additionally, the usage of waste water and its subsequent digestion also results in its treatment rendering it fit for discharge. In a nutshell, the MFC function as an energy generator and a bioremediation unit,” said Ajith Madhavan, Senior Lecturer at Amrita School of Biotechnology.
He added “It is a developing technology for sustainable energy production and waste treatment. MFCs can be employed as a grid connected and/or as off-grid decentralized energy source.”
“If appropriate technology enables MFC to be scaled up to a larger extent, the power so generated can be directly exported to the utility grid. Apart from that, it can potentially be used as standalone units to power rural lighting systems, mobile phones, navigation buoys, laptops etc,” Madhavan told Indian Science Journal.
The global energy demand will soar to 45 percent by the year 2030 with an average annual increase of 1.6 percent (as projected from 2006 onwards). India along with China will account for nearly half of this demand. In such a scenario, complete dependence and inefficient use of conventional energy sources which is reflected in the energy intensity (energy consumption compared to gross domestic product indices) of our country that remains higher than USA and the entire sub-continent of Asia, will be disadvantageous.