Calvin Engineering Senior Design 2007-2008
Conventional batteries seem to work pretty well, and the consumer can buy them for a reasonably low price. These batteries can power electronics for a couple of weeks up to a year, and they are thrown away. Some batteries are even rechargeable and last longer but with decreased performance for every charge over time.
Unfortunately, conventional batteries are not as low cost as they seem. The materials used in most batteries are toxic and harmful to the environment; these materials are not recyclable. In an attempt to minimize their impact, battery processing centers have been implemented, but the process is expensive and time-consuming, and the vast majority of batteries are simply discarded into the “trash.”
Ecowatt is a team that is called to answer the problems caused by conventional batteries by developing Microbial Fuel Cells into a power source that is portable, consistent, and reliable. The power source must have a reduced environmental impact by not using toxic or harmful chemicals, be more easily disposed than conventional batteries, and have a longer lifespan. It must also be easy to operate and provide a reasonable amount of stable power in usable, nominal, USB Standard values, without requiring frequent or expensive maintenance.