In the journey of finding new energy sources, researchers have developed a cheese-driven fuel cells - in fact, is the use of whey, a byproduct of cheese-making process. Commonly referred to hydrogen fuel cells are fuel cells, and the study's goal is to make waste plant through the organic waste directly into electricity, thus restoring the waste of energy.
Whey is rich in lactose, Patras University, Greece, according to the biochemical engineer Georgia Antonopoulou introduction, lactose can be fuel cell culture medium in the digestion of bacterial decomposition, which directly generate electricity. Microbial fuel cell is not a new idea, but in recent years, as a way to waste water treatment and power generation at the same time to attract enough attention.
Whey is rich in organic matter, such as direct emissions, the environment at risk, many governments have enacted strict legislation will require plants to process it. According to Dr. Antonopoulou, occupied in the production of cheese whey liquid milk 70% of capacity, so even a small cheese factory, will produce up to the year 4,000 tons of whey. Microbial fuel cell can not only help the industry deal making cheese whey; breweries, farms, food processing plants, and even sewage treatment plants can benefit from this technology.
The traditional fuel cell makes use of catalytic fuel oxidation substances such as hydrogen, and produce positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. Cations are attracted to a subsidiary electrode, electrolyte through the diaphragm or isolated electron, so that it can not move closer to the electrode directly to the cation, so that free-swimming electrons through wires running to the subsidiary electrode, resulting in current.
Microbial fuel cell principle is similar, but stored in the catalytic reaction chamber microbial fuel cell. In the anaerobic environment (ie, no oxygen present), whey through these micro-organisms to provide nutrients to metabolic, biochemical reactions in the cation will be produced, making the current generation is possible.
"In theory, microbial fuel cell can use any kind of organic-driven," the British Bristol Robotics (300,024, stock it) Laboratory head Chris Melhuish explains, "All you need to do is to make as a fuel organic matter and microbial culture medium appropriate pairing. "Melhuish spent many years of using Dr. wastewater to drive the robot, this process is not simple.
Nevertheless, Antonopoulou Ph.D. has proven that through the use of bacterial culture medium obtained from the water and with diluted whey as a fuel, such fuel cell performance with the use of processed fuel quite. The question now is the energy output of the fuel cell only microwatts magnitude, barely able to charge the phone. Meanwhile, the waste water treatment remains a long way to go.
Beginning, Antonopoulou Ph.D. and her colleagues found that they made the Cullen fuel cell efficiency (an electron into the circuit for generating a number of measures) is very low, only about 2%. This is because the microorganisms contained in the whey which is also absorbing electrons, so pre-killing by these impurities in the whey, and now they Coulomb efficiency to about 25%. They also vowed, through the design using a new fuel chamber so that the electrode surface area can be further improved to increase the power of the device.
Now the biggest problem is the lack of such fuel cell materials research and development investment. In the present case, as Antononpoulou Dr. Dr. Melhuish researchers had to use conventional fuel cell reference design of the electrode. If these problems can be overcome diverse and that the technology can be widely applied to industry, the microbial fuel cells have the potential to produce as it was the anaerobic fermentation tank of gas produced from waste as generated enough energy. If given enough time, the technology will be able to mature slowly, so as a high-quality cheese.
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