FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Wed Jul 31 09:28:47 EDT 2013

Electrified sewage: New American Chemical Society video on electricity from wastewater

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2013 — Shocking as it may seem, wastewater flushed down toilets and sinks is getting a new life thanks to special fuel cells that use it to produce electricity, according to the latest video in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) Bytesize Science series. Produced by the world’s largest scientific society, the video is at www.BytesizeScience.com.

Bruce E. Logan, Ph.D., featured in the video, points out that sewage treatment traditionally has been a big consumer of electricity. With the new fuel cells, that situation could be reversed, with sewage becoming the raw material for making electricity, Logan says. In the video, he explains how bacteria in the fuel cells feed on organic matter in wastewater to produce electrons — the stuff of electricity.

Logan’s research group at the Pennsylvania State University is among those in different parts of the world studying prototype microbial fuel cells. The prototypes are laying the foundation for larger, more efficient microbial fuel cells that could be used by sewage treatment plants in communities around the country.

For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Bruce E. Logan, Ph.D., holds the prototype of a microbial fuel cell, which uses wastewater to generate electricity.
Credit: XiaoZhi Lim, American Chemical Society
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