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Keywords:

  • plant microbial fuel cell;
  • solar energy;
  • bioenergy;
  • rhizodeposits;
  • green electricity

Abstract

The world needs sustainable, efficient, and renewable energy production. We present the plant microbial fuel cell (plant-MFC), a concept that exploits a bioenergy source in situ. In the plant-MFC, plants and bacteria were present to convert solar energy into green electricity. The principal idea is that plants produce rhizodeposits, mostly in the form of carbohydrates, and the bacteria convert these rhizodeposits into electrical energy via the fuel cell. Here, we demonstrated the proof of principle using Reed mannagrass. We achieved a maximal electrical power production of 67 mW m−2 anode surface. This system was characterized by: (1) nondestructive, in situ harvesting of bioenergy; (2) potential implementation in wetlands and poor soils without competition to food or conventional bioenergy production, which makes it an additional bioenergy supply; (3) an estimated potential electricity production of 21 GJ ha−1 year−1 (5800 kWh ha−1 year−1) in Europe; and (4) carbon neutral and combustion emission-free operation. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.