During the yearly congress of the International Society for Electrochemical Technologies (ISMET), held in Rome last September, Ph.D. student Sam Molenaar won a prize for his ‘poster’ presentation. Molenaar’s research resulted in the design of a completely new rechargeable battery by combining two existing technologies: The Microbial fuel cell and microbial electrosynthesis.
In both technologies, microorganisms play a key role. At the bio-cathode bacteria use electricity and CO2 to produce acetate, while at the bio-anode different microbiota use acetate to produce electricity. His finding, the Microbial Rechargeable Battery (RMB) may form a stable, environmental friendly and inexpensive alternative to store energy.
Molenaar’s ‘poster’ was original, to say the least. Instead of an ordinary paper poster, he chose to present his research with a working experimental set-up, where a small propeller was driven by his RMB. ‘This way, I could clearly show the proof of principle of my finding’, Molenaar explains. The jury specifically valued that the technology was not just stuck in a theoretical stage, but was clearly proven to work: the theory behind the RMB was demonstrated in a visible and working system. Molenaar: ‘With my presentation I clearly gave the proof of the concept, and that was highly appreciated.’