The Future of Wastewater Treatment is Living Batteries ⚡🦠

Into the Planet-Verse #1: Microbial Fuel Cells

Adara Hagman
7 min readApr 17


Over 80% of the world’s wastewater is released untreated.

Image Source: Into the Planet-Verse

It is estimated more than 80% of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment untreated. (UN, 2017).

Untreated wastewater poses risks to human health and the environment it is released into.

The cost of wastewater treatment can make it inaccessible.

In the poorest countries, the UN estimates 95% of wastewater is untreated.

To make wastewater treatment more accessible we need to reduce its associated costs.

Wastewater treatment consumes electricity.

One cost of traditional wastewater treatment is the electricity required to power the processing of wastewater.

What if wastewater treatment produced electricity?

This could be possible with the help of microbial fuel cells.

MFCs for short.

Microbial fuel cells are living batteries.

Batteries store energy electrochemically until it is used.

Fuel cells are similar in structure and purpose to a battery; storing energy electrochemically until it is used. The key difference a fuel cell generates the energy it contains.

Fuel cells can generate energy for as long as they have fuel.

For example, a hydrogen fuel cell can generate energy as long as it has hydrogen and oxygen.

Microbial fuel cells are a type of fuel cell that generates energy biologically.

They contain microorganisms (microbes) like bacteria that generate electricity through cellular respiration.

To continue generating energy, their must be biomass present.

Biomass is the fuel for MFCs.

It is consumed by microbes which produce electrons.

For example, sugar or sewage in wastewater; making it a good candidate for wastewater treatment.



Adara Hagman

Circular Systems 🌎♻