PlantPower - living plants in microbial fuel cells for clean, renewable, sustainable, efficient, in-situ bioenergy production



In 2008, it was discovered at our department that living plants and micro organism can generate green electricity in a biological fuel cell. Now, this is a future emerging technology with potential to provide 20% of Europe’s electricity need. Therefore, the European PlantPower project explores new exiting areas of science & technology.

The concept of this renewable energy production is that living plants transform solar energy into organic compounds of which 40% or more can be released into the soil. The released organic compounds can be oxidized by electrochemically active micro organisms that use the anode of a fuel cell as electron acceptor. The electrons are reduced at the cathode with oxygen to water.  In this way, day and night electricity can sustainably be produced from biomass without harvesting the plant.

Technological challenge

The challenge is to increase the power output of this system with several European research groups. Our research group is focused on maximizing the power output by increasing efficiency and adapting the reactor design and operation.

Plant Microbial Fuel Cell

  • no combustion gasses thus clean
  • solar energy thus renewable
  • living biomass & nutrients reuse thus sustainable
  • 5 times more then conventional thus efficient
  • 24 hours per day electricity in-situ
  • bioenergy without competition to food


e-mail David Strik, 0317-483228

e-mail Kirsten Steinbusch, 0317-484805

e-mail Annemiek ter Heijne, 0317-483447

e-mail Paulaa Gonzalez Contreras, 0317-484993