From Forest Litter to Electrical Energy

By Alex Chow

Students at Annual Design ExpoA Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) is a device that utilizes microorganisms to generate electric power from organic matter. Detritus or organic matter stored in forest/wetland/estuarine ecosystems represents a large potential source of energy. Microbial fuel cells (MFC), which can convert organic wastes into electricity, are a potential tool to harvest this renewable energy to power field equipment in remote areas.

Clemson University students Jianing Dai (Biosystems Engineering), William Wilson, (Forestry & Natural Resources), Elizabeth O’Rourke (Forestry & Natural Resources), and Fan Yang (Electrical Engineering) attended the 7th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 15-17, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  While there, they competed in the EPA’s P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet student design competition for sustainability.  Their project “Power field monitoring equipment with wetland detritus using microbial fuel cells” received an Honorable Mention Award.  Faculty advisors for the students were Dr. Alex Chow (Biosystems Engineering), Dr. William Conner (Forestry & Natural Resources), and Dr. Yong Huang (Mechanical Engineering).

For information: Alex Chow, 843-546-1013 x 232,