Crop Biotech Update

Researcher Updates on Plant Microbial Fuel Cell

December 5, 2012

The Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell principle was discovered and patented in 2007 by the Environmental Technology Group at Wageningen University. It can generate electricity from the natural interaction between living plant roots and soil bacteria. The technique already works on a small scale and will soon be applied in larger marshland areas throughout the world.

On Nov. 23, researcher Marjolein Helder defended her PhD research on generating electricity via plants in Wageningen University. Helder and her colleagues placed an electrode close to the bacteria to absorb these electrons and generate electricity via the potential difference it created.

The Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell can currently generate 0.4 Watt per square metre of plant growth. This is more than what is generated by fermenting biomass. In future, bio-electricity from plants could produce as much as 3.2 Watt per square metre of plant growth. This would mean that a roof measuring 100 m2 would generate enough electricity to supply a household (with an average consumption of 2,800 kWh/year). Plants of various species could be used, including grasses such as common cordgrass and, in warmer countries, rice.

View Wageningen URL's news release at http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/show/Electricity-from-the-marshes.htm.