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Schuler Receives Three Year Award to Harvest Energy from Bacterial Metabolism in Wastewater Treatment

June 26, 2012

The Army Research office recently granted Andy Schuler, associate professor of civil engineering, a three-year $418,000 award to harvest energy from bacterial metabolism in wastewater treatment. The project, "Rational design of anode surface chemistry in microbial fuel cells for improved exoelectrogen attachment and electron transfer," is being conducted through UNM's Center for Emerging Energy Technologies (CEET).

Wastewater contains a variety of waste compounds which may contain two to three times the energy required for the treatment process itself. Microbial fuel cells represent a developing technology in which bacterial metabolism is harnessed to directly produce an electric current using "anode respiring bacteria", which are  deliver electrons to an anode in place of conventional respiration, while simultaneously biodegrading wastes.

This research project will focus on fundamental and applied research to develop materials with engineered surface chemistries and other characteristics to improve electron transfer from bacteria to anode surfaces, thereby improving overall performance and developing this promising source of renewable energy. 

The project, "Rational design of anode surface chemistry in microbial fuel cells for improved exoelectrogen attachment and electron transfer," is being conducted through UNM's Center for Emerging Energy Technologies (CEET).