Public Release: 

Waste not, want not

Bacteria-driven cell produces hydrogen for fuel while cleaning wastewater

National Science Foundation

By harnessing the efforts of billions of bacteria, researchers have engineered a bio-filtration system that produces hydrogen gas while cleaning wastewater - gas that could potentially fuel other machines. Up to 100 percent more efficient at producing hydrogen than similar bio-filtration systems, the new device has the added benefit of being able to digest human or animal waste, plant material or just about any organic matter.

Hong Liu and Bruce Logan of Penn State University and Stephen Grot of Ion Power, Inc. of New Castle, Del. announced their findings online April 22, 2005, in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.


A Penn State University press release is available at:

This research was supported by NSF Award #0401885:
Improving Power Generation in Microbial Fuel Cells

Additional Award information
The recent innovation builds upon an NSF Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER). For 15 years, NSF has made a small number of SGER grants--each for 1 to 2 years duration and for amounts up to $200,000--that address especially novel, or urgent, research ideas. Logan credits his SGER award with providing a critical spark that helped drive his microbial fuel-cell research.

The SGER research generated an earlier NSF press release, and an animation of the bio-filtration device. Both can be found at:

NSF Award #0331824:
SGER: Determination of the Potential for Direct Generation of Electricity from Wastewater Using a Microbial Fuel Cell

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