Pluggable microbial fuel cell stacks for septic wastewater treatment and electricity production

Hadi Yazdi, Liliana Alzate-Gaviria, Zhiyong Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Septic tanks and other decentralized wastewater treatment systems play an important role in protecting public health and water resource for remote or developing communities. Current septic systems do not have energy production capability, yet such feature can be very valuable for areas lack access to electricity. Here we present an easy-to-operate microbial fuel cell (MFC) stack that consists a common base and multiple pluggable units, which can be connected in either series or parallel for electricity generation during waste treatment in septic tanks. Lab studies showed such easy configuration obtained a power density of 142 ± 6.71 mWm-2 when 3 units are connected in parallel, and preliminary calculation indicates that a system that costs approximately US $25 can power a 6-watt LED light for 4h per day with great improvement potential. Detailed electrochemical characterizations provide insights on system internal loss and technology advancement needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-263
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


  • Decentralized wastewater treatment
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Septic system


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