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Over 100 years ago the British botanist M. C. Potter discovered electro-chemical reactions by anaerobe microbial degradation processes. This was the milestone for the first thoughts of developing a system for degradation of substances with additional generating of electricity.

There is a growing interest in the use of alternative energy sources. Decreasing use of fossil fuels in the context of atmospheric greenhouse gas reduction, coupled with the recent reduction of nuclear power production in Germany have encouraged the search for alternative energy production processes. Generation of electricity at large scales can have negative impacts on local environments and the use of energy storage devices on a small scale holds the risk of release of toxic pollutants from batteries.
 In consideration of these issues, the iGEM team of Bielefeld University is undertaking a project called "Microbial fuel cell" (MFC) this year. The goal of this project is to use bacteria for direct energy production from organic substrates.

Unlike conventional batteries, a Biobattery is environmentally friendly and easy to “charge developing countries. In contrast to wind and solar energy, electricity production is controlled in the MFC by a targeted substrate supply providing direct energy when it is required and avoiding the need for complex storage systems. Exhibiting rapid growth with the addition of simple substrates, bacteria are available within minimal time and in a large” through substrate refilling. Due to its simple design, the MFC could be used in areas with occasional power shortages as a back up energy generation system, for example in quantity. The iGEM team at Bielefeld wants to test different bacteria strains as electron donors, as well as design our own MFC to improve electron transfer and electricity production. Using BioBrick concept and ''Escherichia coli'' as a model organism, we investigate different genetic approaches in order to ensure efficient power generation from the microbial system. In addition to the electrical power production on the anode, we will attempt to use the reduction potential of the MFC-cathode for a bioremediation strategy.

There are different fields of application to use a MFC. For example the usage of the MFC in a wastewater treatment plant to produce electricity by degradation substances which are in the water. This could be an important move to switch the wastewater from an uninteresting, stinky broth to an interesting energy-gaining and so more effective degradation process. Thereby it would be possible to remove recesses of medicals like ethylestradiol or toxic heavy metals like even uran.

Another application of an MFC is the demineralization of seawater. This can be done without or with very low energy input to assemble drinking water out of seawater.

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