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Others Like “Waste Not, Want Not: Use the Microbial Fuel Cell to Create Electricity from Waste”

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Science Fair Project Idea
Generating power from mud sounds like science fiction, but it is actually real science, and a promising source of alternative energy. Topsoil is packed with bacteria that generate electricity when placed in a microbial fuel cell. Because such bacteria-laden soil is found almost everywhere on Earth, microbial fuel cells can make clean, renewable electricity nearly anyplace around the globe. They are an up-and-coming technology that scientists and engineers are working on making even more… Read more
Elec_p071
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Having used a voltmeter/multimeter before is helpful, but not required.
Material Availability The microbial fuel cell kit needs to be special ordered from the .
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Be sure to wear the gloves supplied with the kit when handling the microbial fuel cell's electrodes (its cathode and anode). The electrodes are made of a conductive material called graphite fiber and should not be placed near electronics, power plugs, or have their fibers dispersed in the air. The fibers will cause electrical shortages when in contact with electronics.
Science Fair Project Idea
Every day, we produce a lot of sewage (wastewater full of feces and urine). In fact, it adds up to 6.4 trillion liters of urine alone produced worldwide each year! The sewage is collected and then treated or disposed of. But what if, along the way, there were a way to make that sewage do something useful? It turns out that human urine is rich in nutrients, and some bacteria actually thrive on eating those nutrients. There are also devices called microbial fuel cells that can generate electrical… Read more
EnvSci_p061
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Previous experience using a multimeter is helpful, but not required.
Material Availability The microbial fuel cell kit needs to be special ordered from the .
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Be sure to wear the gloves supplied with the kit when handling the microbial fuel cell's electrodes (its cathode and anode). The electrodes are made of a conductive material called graphite fiber and should not be placed near electronics or power plugs, or have their fibers dispersed in the air. The fibers will cause electrical shortages when they come in contact with electronics. Wear gloves when working with human urine. Adult supervision is recommended.
Science Fair Project Idea
Earth, the Sun, wind, and water are all sources of renewable and sustainable energy—and sources you probably already know about. But did you know that you can get energy from such things as banana peels, coffee grounds, and newspaper? In a process called composting, you can transform kitchen and other solid wastes into a product that is beneficial for your garden: homemade fertilizer. As the waste decomposes, it also creates heat. Can this naturally created heat be put to use? In this… Read more
Energy_p035
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Making a compost pile can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on the method and bin you use. In this energy and power science fair project, you will spend a few days creating a compost pile. You will have to account for the time as you are planning your science fair project. You will also need to be home for several hours at a time on many specific days throughout this project. Read through the Experimental Procedure for more details.
Material Availability You (and friends, if possible) will have to start collecting potato peelings or grass clippings a few weeks in advance to accumulate enough, so keep this in mind when budgeting time for your science fair project. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Wear safety goggles and use caution when working with all tools. Be sure to wear disposable gloves when handling animal waste and to clean all of the work surfaces thoroughly with a bleach solution. Read the Science Buddies to learn how to experiment safely.
Science Fair Project Idea
Topsoil is packed with bacteria that generate electricity when placed in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). Because such bacteria-laden soil is found almost everywhere on Earth, microbial fuel cells can make clean, renewable electricity nearly anyplace around the globe. As natural resources are being depleted, scientists' attention has shifted to pursuing alternative energy sources, such as MFCs, even more than before. A microbial fuel cell, also known as a biological fuel cell, is a device that can… Read more
MicroBio_p032
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Previous experience using a voltmeter/multimeter is helpful, but not required. A basic knowledge of how to work with bacteria is also needed to complete this science fair project. Consult the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicrobiologyTechniquesampTroubleshooting" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Microbiology Techniques and Troubleshooting" #] guide for information on how to conduct microbiology experiments.
Material Availability A microbial fuel cell and other specialty items are needed. See the Materials tab for more details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Be sure to wear the gloves supplied with the kit when handling the microbial fuel cell’s electrodes (its cathode and anode). The electrodes are made of a conductive material called graphite fiber and should not be placed near electronics or power plugs, or have their fibers dispersed in the air. Use sterile technique when growing the bacteria. Read the before starting any experiments. may be necessary. Adult supervision is recommended.
Science Fair Project Idea
Everything on our planet is connected together, linked by a giant recycling system called the biogeochemical cycle. It is an amazing process. You can actually investigate how our planet recycles and reuses everything needed to support life by making a small model of the biosphere. What will be important to include in your miniature system so that it can support different types of life? Read more
Geo_p038
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need access to a muddy stream, lake, pond, or march in order to collect mud.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after handling soil that may contain microorganisms. Use caution if you use a knife. Adult assistance may be needed.
Science Fair Project Idea
You have probably heard the saying that "water and electricity don't mix." Well, in this chemistry science fair project you will mix them, to create two solutions, one basic and one acidic. The apparatus is very simple, but the chemistry is complex and offers many avenues for exploration. Read more
Chem_p087
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites You should know what the pH scale is, and what current and voltage measure in a circuit.
Material Availability A pH meter is required for this project. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Minor injury is possible. Be careful not to short out the battery, as it may get very hot.
Science Fair Project Idea
Hold onto your hats! In this science fair project, you will make a device that sends a film canister across the room with a small chemical explosion. The energy for the explosion is derived from the combustion of ethanol. You will determine the launch velocity of the canister, as well as devise ways to study changes in gas pressure and volume due to the explosion. This science fair project is sure to take your breath away! Read more
Chem_p074
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Knowledge of basic chemistry and physics would be helpful, but is not required. Experience with power tools will be helpful. This is a DIY (do-it-yourself) project that will require some creative problem-solving on your part.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Minor injury is possible, so wear safety goggles. Avoid breathing the fumes caused by the explosion. Adult supervision is required.
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever gotten a shock touching a doorknob after walking across a carpet? Static charge is responsible for that shock. Wouldn't it be cool to save up and store all of that charge in a homemade jar? It would almost be like storing lightning. This science project will show you how to do that. Read more
Elec_p049
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Since this experiment deals with electricity, it is best to have an adult supervise. A mild to moderate electric shock is possible if care is not taken. Follow all directions as stated.
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever noticed that most yogurt containers say they contain "live cultures"? What does that mean? The label is suggesting that the yogurt has living bacteria in it! While some types of bacteria can make you sick, some are actually important to keep you healthy. But individual bacteria are so tiny that you cannot see one with the naked eye, so how can you tell if bacteria are really living in your yogurt? In this science fair project, you will investigate whether yogurt actually… Read more
FoodSci_p072
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need to special order the agar plates. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety The bacteria in the yogurt is not harmful; however, it is possible for other bacteria to grow on the agar plates. For that reason, make sure to follow all the safety guidelines in the Experimental Procedure. Be sure to dispose properly any plates with bacteria when the experiment is over. Adult help is required to light a candle.
Science Fair Project Idea
Solar cells are popping up on rooftops everywhere these days and are a model for clean, renewable energy. Did you ever look at those solar panels and wonder how we can get electricity produced by solar cells when the sun is not shining? It is a great question because solar panels do not produce electricity when it is dark outside. One strategy to overcome this challenge is to store the energy produced by solar cells during the day in the form of a fuel that can be used at a later time. In… Read more
Chem_p099
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Completion of a basic chemistry class is recommended before trying this science project. You should also know something about circuits, or use the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ElectronicsPrimerIntroduction" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Science Buddies Electronics Primer" #].
Material Availability A number of specialty items are required. For your convenience a kit is available for purchase from the .
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision is recommended. Use caution when connecting the four 9V batteries. Ensure that the wires/connectors do not come in contact with each other to cause a short or the batteries will become VERY hot and can possibly cause burns. Cobalt nitrate can cause skin and eye irritation. It is recommended to wear disposable gloves when handling cobalt nitrate.
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