Research - BioEnergy

Microbial Fuel Cells 

Microbial Fuel Cells
PowerPoint Presentations
Make a MFC!
MFC Book
Public Reports on MFC Research
  - Penn State press
  - Other media
Microbial Electrolysis Cell Research
PowerPoint Presentations
Public Reports on MEC Research
  - Penn State press
  - Other media
H2E Center


Make a Microbial Fuel Cell

We get a lot of questions about how to make MFCs and what materials we use. We have put together a series of handouts and information files that you may find useful, depending on your level of familiarity with MFCs. New! See the "Powerpoint Presentations" for pdf files and links to videos on MFCs.

Handouts prepared for general public on MFCs and MECs

Information sheets for making MFCs and media, and frequently asked questions

Videos on MFCs and MECs

Examples of student MFC projects (universities and public schools):

Guide to making a microbial fuel cell  prepared by Karl Shellenberger, Ph.D. student, The Pennsylvania State University

Examples of student MFC projects (universities and public schools):

  • Jonathan Rieco:  (8th Grade, Flat Rock Middle School, NC): He designed and tested sediment-type MFCs, and won lots of awards for his work, including the NC State Science Fair ("Mud Power"), and a Navy science award and an EPA award. Report (7-26-12).

  • Wendy Willner (A junior at Briarclff High School in NY)- Won the Navy Award for Outstanding projects in Engineering, Math and Technology in the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF) for her MFCs and her study on power generation using food wastes. (3-30-12)

  • Zain Lakhani (Niles North High School) Constructed sediment type MFCs. He won his regional science fair and the Ricoh Sustainable Development Award. (3/30/12)

  • Billy Follett- (7th grade, Medea Creek Middle School, Oak Park, CA) Made a test apparatus to examine different types of membranes and separators (7th grade) (3-1-12); Later, he built a cube-shaped MFC with an air cathode (8th grade).

  • Justin Bauldock- High school student won first place at the Delaware Valley Science fair with his MFC (microbiology division). (4-26-11)

  • Peter McAveney, Brett Pedersen, Jun-Chung Wong- Univ of Iowa students made from a soda pop bottle, GoreTex and loose weave carbon. Report. (2-5-10)

  • Gene Snider- made a two chamber MFC with a salt bridge made using food grade unflavored gelatin, over the counter anaerobic septic tank treatment as the innoculum, and sugar and shredded paper as the fuels (6-16-09).

  • Julie Paone (student at Manhasset High School, NY) constructed a biofuel cell (not a mediatorless cell) using a dialysis bag containing the anode and a methylene blue mediator, and a ferricyanide cathode (4-24-09).

  • Aaron Ong (7th grade student at Terman Middle School) built an MFC for his science fair project. He used two 0.5 L water bottles attached back to back and connected them with a salt bridge (made of agar). The source of organic matter was rotten vegetables and diluted Dr. Pepper. The total cost of the system was $2. (11-1-08)

  • Ian Bennett (7th grade, La Entrada School) for the local science fair build an MFC. His project was "Generating Electricity From Wastewater Using A Microbial Fuel Cell". It had a a very simple design, but generated a 152.45 mV (2008) Abstract

  • Abbie Groff (Conastoga Valley High School). Abbie won the Lancaster county grand prize for her project."Identification of Benthic Microbes Utilizing Bioremediation and Microbial Fuel Cells".  Newspaper release (295 kb).

  • Sikandar Porter-Gill (Gaithersburg High School). Harvesting Energy from Wastewater in a 2-Chamber Microbial Fuel Cell (442 kb).

  • Eric A. Zielke (Humboldt State University)

  • Khanik Bohra, who is from Guwahati, India, sent a picture of his home-made MFC. See below (4-4-08).  

Have you built one?

Send us your photos, website, or other information (email:

Pictures of student projects:

Billy Follett's cube-shaped MFC

Johnathan Rieco's two chamber MFC.

Wendy Willner built a series of two chamber MFCs to examine power production from food wastes.

Zain Lakhani constructed this sediment MFC and tested different soil innocula.

Billy Follett's apparatus to switch between different types of separators.

Justin Bauldock and his MFC

Peter McAveney, Brett Pedersen, Jun-Chung Wong.
Read about their project

Gene Snider's two chamber MFC with a salt bridge

Biofuel cell by Julie Paone that uses a methylene blue mediator.


MFC designed by Aaron Ong, which has graphite from pencils for both of the electrodes.

2-Chamber Microbial Fuel Cell design with membrane chamber by Sikandar

Ian Bennet's MFC with volt meter

Two of Ian Bennett's MFCs, connected with salt bridges.

Two chamber MFC by Khanik Bohra (from India)

Abbie Groff's Microbial Fuel Cell project (PA, USA)


Bruce E. Logan |  Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering | 231Q Sackett Building
Phone: 814-863-7908 | Fax: 814-863-7304 
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802