Phys.org has the story about an interesting research project cooked up by the Oregon State University Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering to greatly increase amount of electricity produced by microbial fuel cells in wastewater.
“If this technology works on a commercial scale the way we believe it will, the treatment of wastewater could be a huge energy producer, not a huge energy cost,” said Hong Liu, an associate professor in the OSU Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering. “This could have an impact around the world, save a great deal of money, provide better water treatment and promote energy sustainability.”
In addition to producing vastly more electricity than alternative methods of wastewater treatment, this method also has the advantage of not producing hydrogen sulfide and methane in the process.
Next step? A pilot study in an actual wastewater treatment plant. The concept has been proven on a substantial scale in the laboratory, and researchers are now looking for funding to take it into the real world.
For those of you interested in digging deeper into the geekery, the nitty gritty details of the project were reported in the journal Energy and Environmental Science (behind a $!%$@ payway, unfortunately).