Feeds

US battery boffins build cow dung fuel cell

Moo-bile applications

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Cow dung has provided human beings with fuel for millennia. Now, thanks to research conducted by Ohio State University, it could become the foundation for future notebook power plants.

To be fair, it's not the manure per se that's the power source, but the bacteria crawling through it.

According to researcher Ann Christy, Associate Professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering, the bugs in 0.5l of bovine gastric juices can generate 600mV - half the voltage needed to power up a AA-sized rechargeable battery. The voltage arises from electrons freed when the bacteria digest cellulose in the cow's gut.

Since it's easier to extract the bacteria after they have left the cow's intestinal tract, fecal matter looks like a far better source that the stomach fluid.

Indeed, the Ohio State researchers ran a dung-packed fuel cell for "well over 30 days without a decrease in the voltage output", said co-researcher and Ohio State graduate student Hamid Rismani-Yazdi. The cell generated 300-400mV.

“While that's a very small amount of voltage, the results show that it is possible to create electricity from cow waste,” Christy said.

The downside is size: the experimental fuel cells comprised two cylinders each 30cm high and 15cm in diameter. There's also the problem of how much power the bugs generate.

“Although it's too early to tell if this kind of fuel cell can produce significantly more electricity," said Christy, "the fact that the [stomach] fluid worked in our study means that there are additional electricity-producing microbes that we have yet to identify." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?