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Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) provide a renewable way to produce electricity, while also doubling as a method to treat industrial waste water streams. Just like traditional H2 fuel cells, MFCs produce current by creating a flowing of electrons. In MFCs, unlike hydrogen fuel cells, the electrons are catalytically extracted by microorganisms from complex electron donors, making MFCs a sustainable energy source. This experiment examines the effect of the toxin, dinitrophenol, on the electrical output of a MFC using the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. DNP is a decoupler which destabilizes the lipid bilayer membrane, hypothetically increasing the production of reducing equivalents by the cell. Concentrations of the toxin were varied to determine the dose dependent response of the MFC. By improving the outputs achieved in an MFC and understanding the effects of toxins on MFC performance, this renewable energy technology is one step closer to being functional on a large scale.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Donald A. Comfort

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium poster

The Effect of Dinitrophenol on Electricity Production by a Microbial Fuel Cell