This graphic shows the basic setup for a microbial fuel cell. An MFC consists of an anode, a cathode, a proton or cation exchange membrane and an electrical circuit.
Anode respiring bacteria cling to the anode of the MFC. In the course of their metabolic activity, these bacteria strip electrons from organic waste. The electrons then flow through a circuit to the cathode, producing electricity in the process, in addition to CO2 and water. Hydroxide or OH- ions are transported from the cathode into the surrounding electrolyte.