IIT Kharagpur research scholar develops battery using sewage water

Kolkata, Feb 26 (PTI): A research scholar of IIT Kharagpur has developed a disposable and flexible battery powered by bacteria from sewage water, the institute said in a statement. For the environment-friendly battery cell to start energy production, sewage water containing bacteria needs to be injected into it. “Normally microbial fuel cells (MFCs) can take as long as couple of days to start power production as the bacteria needs to get adjusted to the environment. “But for this device, the power production starts within 10 seconds, that is, almost immediately,” the statement said quoting Ramya Veerubhotla, the PhD student in the Department of Biotechnology. Currently, the power from the device is in the range of few microwatts. Stacking multiple devices can further boost the power and drive several practical applications.
Unlike other batteries which are heavy, this device developed by Veerubhotla, is made on a paper platform, it said. The battery is made using air cathode and the anode can be prepared from any simple carbon-based materials. Veerubhotla presented her research paper from IITKGP’s ‘Team Electrodes’ at KPIT Sparkle 2018, the annual National Design and Development Innovation Contest recently. The project won the first prize and a cash award of Rs 10 lakh, the statement said. “It may be difficult to power household devices with this device, but it can power certain electronic components,” she said in the statement.
Veerubhotla’s PhD supervisor, Professor Debabrata Das of the Biotechnology Department is confident that this invention will have tremendous use when applied in bio-electric toilets. “One of the best advantages of the device is that it is 100 per cent biodegradable and environment-friendly, which is not the case with chemical batteries,” Das said. Faculty members from departments of Mechanical engineering, Materials Science and Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering of IITKGP are working together to harness this bio-energy.