STTR Phase I: Next-Generation Microbial Fuel Cell for Highly Efficient Wastewater Treatment

Period of Performance: 01/01/2015 - 06/30/2016


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Waste2Watergy LLC
3830 NW BOXWOOD DR Array
Covallis, OR 97330
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
Institution POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project, if successful, will be to advance the development of a novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) system that generates energy from the wastewaters being treated and that could significantly benefit wastewater treatment for a range of key industries. If successfully developed, the company's new MFC technology is expected to offer significant economic/technical advantages for these companies by reducing their disposal costs and waste volumes, reducing the footprint of treatment facilities, and helping them to adopt a more-sustainable process for wastewater treatment. Treatment of organic-rich wastewater is energy-intensive, consuming 15 GigaWatts (GW) or 3% of all electrical power produced in the United States. However, this water contains roughly 17 GW of potential energy. Capturing a portion of this energy through MFC technology would favorably reduce wastewater treatment energy requirements leading to a more economical treatment process. The objectives of this Phase I research project are to demonstrate the scalability of the company's proprietary, low-cost MFC cathode material, its long-term performance, and the feasibility of the company's MFC design to effectively clean beverage wastewater. The need to maintain MFC reactor performance during scale-up and to reduce cathode cost is a major technical challenge for using MFC for wastewater treatment. The successful completion of the proposed research will result in the translation of the laboratory cathode fabrication recipe to a larger-scale manufacturing procedure. Integration of the low-cost cathode material and the unique MFC modular design is expected to provide breakthrough performance and cost that will enable the broad-based economically viable and modular commercial deployment of an MFC wastewater treatment process.