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Microbial Fuel Cells To Help You Charge Your Mobile With Dirt

Discussion in 'Engineering & Technology News' started by Kaustubh Katdare, May 10, 2011.

  1. Kaustubh Katdare


    Engineering Discipline:
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded $100k grant to Dr. Aviva Presser Aiden, an affiliate of SEAS aka Harvard School Of Engineering & Applied Sciences for invention of Microbial Fuel Based Charger. The USP of this charger is that it can be assembled using readily and cheaply available basic components. This invention can help in increasing health awareness in developing countries like India & Africa, through innovative mobile applications. In the Indian context, everyone knows how 'reliable' are electric power supplies. Hundreds of villages receive power only for an hour or so and that too during the late night hours. One can't think of penetrating mobile phones in such regions as keeping mobile phones charged would be a huge problem. The invention by Dr. Aiden would result in powering the cell phones using the microbes in the soil - readily available everywhere.

    Credit: Flickr user Kris Krug

    The project has been hosted by Harvard Laboratory at Large and is currently going field testing in Africa. The project received funding from Gates Grand Challenges Exploration Grant (CGE) under the proposal to create low cost mobile phone based applications for global health conditions. Dr. Aiden and her team of researchers investigated several low cost solutions before concluding that microbial power would be the right and most cost-effective solution. Naturally occurring microbes produce free electrons during the regular metabolic process.  Microbial Fuel Cell aka MFC harvests these free electrons and uses them as a power source.

    Dr. Aiden and her team is now aiming to bring the cost of such microbial chargers down to a dollar and improve the mechanisms so that the cell phone would be completely charged within 24 hours. The best part of the project is that once the knowledge of MFC spreads across the remote areas, people will be able to assemble these chargers on their own using very basic components.

    Via: Harvard SEAS

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