Self-Biased and Sustainable Microbial Electrohydrogenesis Device

Tech ID: 23430 / UC Case 2013-222-0


To employ energy-efficient processes for wastewater treatment while simultaneously recovering the energy contained as organic matter in wastewater would be incredibly beneficial to the environment. It has been demonstrated that utilizing microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology can generate energy, such as electricity. A MFC, or biological fuel cell, is a bioelectrochemical system that drives a current by mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature. These devices use electrogenic bacteria to oxidize  organic matter and then transfer the electrons to an electrode to generate electrical energy. UCSC researchers have been pursuing methods to enhance, harness, and utilize the energy produced directly from the degradation of organic matter in a microbial fuel cell.    

Technology Description

UCSC researchers have recently developed a self-biased and sustainable photoelectrochemical (PEC) microbial fuel cell hybrid device for electricity and hydrogen generation using wastewater and  sunlight as the exclusive energy sources. The new PEC-MFC device provides photovoltage that enables microbial electrohydrogenesis to occur without the need of an additional electrical bias. The researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of continuous, self-sustained hydrogen gas production based solely on  sunlight and biodegradable biomass recycling, by coupling solar water splitting and microbial electrohydrogenesis in a PEC-MFC device assembly. The results  provide new insights into the development of efficient energy solutions by integrating solar and microbial technology, which may revolutionize the conventional wastewater treatment methods currently applied nationwide. This invention has the potential to disrupt existing process systems and create new fields of use.    


  • Sustainable energy
  • Wastewater treatment


  • Efficiently generates sustainable energy
  • A practical solution to wastewater treatment 

Related Materials

Intellectual Property Information

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,825,321 11/21/2017 2013-222

Additional Patent Pending


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  • Li, Yat

Other Information


Electricity, microbial, sunlight, PEC, MEC, sustainable, waste, waste treatment, electrohydrogenesis, water splitting, hydrogen, energy, sustainable energy, energy efficient, solar, biotechnology, environment, bioenergy

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