Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Microbial fuel cells

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microbial fuel cells

Mains level : Microbial fuel cells and its applications


  • The London Zoo has used plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a fern.

Microbial fuel cells

  • They are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate current.
  • Electrons produced by the bacteria are transferred to the negative terminal and flow to the positive terminal.
  • Plants naturally deposit biomaterial as they grow which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil.
  • This creates energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.

Benefits over other power sources

  • Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight.
  • On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.
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