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Electric power production from heat generated by microbial processes

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One of the major problems our society faces today is the steady worldwide growing energy demand. Alternative technologies not fossil and not nuclear are promising energy sources although they are not wholly competitive. There are biological systems allowing direct conversion of biomass into electricity by electrogenic bacteria that produce electrons when oxidize organic matter they are known as Microbial Fuel Cell MFC. The electric yield of MFCs has significantly improved in recent years mainly by increasing the ratio electrode area and reactor volume. However the best results have been obtained for small-scale in devices of volumes lower than 1 liter. Therefore the development of technological improvements in procedures for electricity production by microbial cultures is needed. Researchers from University of Valencia have revealed electricity production from exothermic microbial culture by thermoelectric or Peltier-Seebeck effect that is to say by conversion of heat produced by microbial growth to electric power. Furthermore they have developed the device required to achieve efficiently that energetic transformation. This conversion of heat produced by exothermic microbial growth to electricity allows designing devices and coupling them to existing microbial reactors. Besides it is possible to obtain an electricity source competent for local electricity production and heat recycling that could be incorporated in future developments of cellular electric installations based on microbiology. The procedure can be applied to any exothermic microbial culture in the industry such as agro-food and biotechnology making efficient use of the heat produced in fermentation processes such as alcoholic beverages wine beer bioremediation waste treatment autotrophic thermal aerobic digestion for electricity production.


The most remarkable advantages provided by this technology are: Taking advantage of an undesirable by-product the metabolic heat generated by microbial fermentations. The culture survival is prolonged since this method controls the internal temperature of the microbial process. It is universal since the procedure can be applied to any exothermic microbial culture i.e. alcoholic fermentation in industries such as agro-food or in waste treatments.; Technology developed at laboratory level.

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