[Written during my fall 2007 semester]
I am an Environmental Resources Engineering student, and I have had a great amount of interest in microbial fuel cell technology for the last few years while studying at Humboldt State University (HSU). Microbial fuel cells (MFCsW) are defined as devices that use bacteria to generate electricity from organic matter. During the fall semester of 2005, I obtained a small research grant from HSU to obtain materials needed to fabricate seven single chamber MFCs. That same semester, I obtained a permit from the city of Arcata, CA to obtain sample primary effluent domestic wastewater to use as an inoculant in the MFC. At the HSU facilities, I have investigated: (1) determining the effects of voltage output in comparison to varying fuel cell components, (2) determining the effects of uncertainty associated with the power density modeled as a function of substrate concentration using an empirical Monod-type equation (a variation of the Michaelis-Menten equation), (3) researching large scale applications, (4) calculating second law thermodynamic efficiencies of a MFC, (5) developing and verifying FortranW computer code necessary to solve a one dimensional diffusion equation to model oxygen concentration in a single chamber MFC, and (6) developing scanning electron micrographs and transmission electron micrographs of E. coli growing on carbon paper electrode material. During the 2006 fall semester, I researched the use of a two-chamber MFC while I was on exchange at the University of Puerto Rico at MayaguezW (UPRM). I continued research at Penn State UniversityW (PSU) during the 2007 summer with a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Currently, I am looking into graduate schools that offer programs involving MFC technology. The most active schools in this research area are PSU and the University of Massachusetts at AmherstW (U-Mass).