Drawing Energy out of Wastewater

Microbes in a fuel cell can generate electricity from plant and animal waste in water.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM March 16, 2004

Flush. Every time you go to the toilet, your waste gets carried away by water. Before it can be released into the environment, the wastewater has to be treated to remove solids and other contaminants.

Now, environmental engineers from Pennsylvania State University have found a use for all that waste material—as an energy source. Using a type of energy generator called a fuel cell, they can break down plant and animal, or organic, waste and, in the process, produce electricity. Their techniq...

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