Cleaning up with fuel cells

US researchers have developed a fuel cell that not only generates electricity in an environment friendly way but also treats waste water. Lars Angenent of Washington University St Louis and his team have developed a microbial fuel cell that works differently from other fuel cells of its type. Angenent uses a carbon-based foam with a large pore size on which biofilm grows, allowing him to connect two electrodes in the anode and cathode chambers with a conductive wire. The fuel cell is doing basically the same thing as a standard hydrogen fuel cell except that the bacteria on the anode act as the catalyst instead of platinum. Angenent says that producing energy from wastewater should be a high international priority because of population growth and worldwide depletion of energy resources.