Microbial Fuel Cells

When calamity strikes, a top need of the people affected is electricity. Unfortunately, putting the grid back together is often a long, painstaking process.

Madison Perkins of Gilmer, Texas, hopes that one day she can invent better, renewable energy sources to use in natural disaster situations. The 13-year old FFA member tested the ability for pond water, fresh algae and dried algae to produce electricity in microbial fuel cells. Madison experimented with each using benthic material, which is a fancy term for mud and bacteria.

"I used four different microbial fuel cells and I split my project into two phases," says Madison. "I had fresh algae and benthic material and pond water in the first phase, and then in the second phase I had dried algae, pond water and benthic material, and dried algae combined."

The results of Madison’s six-week study weren’t as positive as she hoped they would be. However, it’s not stopping her dream of doing more research on energy sources to help others.

"One day I hope to go to Africa with my church on a mission trip," she says. "Maybe I could bring a paper battery because that’s what I’m going to use next year because the microbial fuel cells didn’t produce as much energy as I’d hoped. And so, I hope to bring paper batteries over there to leave with them, to give them some power after a natural disaster or something like that."

Madison has won several state and national awards for her microbial fuel cell research and presentations.

Read more about the great things our FFA kids are doing