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Living architecture: Toward energy generating buildings powered by microbial fuel cells

You, Jiseon; Rimbu, Gimi A.; Wallis, Lauren; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis

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Jiseon You
Research Fellow - Bristol BioEnergy Centre

Gimi A. Rimbu

Lauren Wallis


In this study, possibilities of integrating microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology and buildings were investigated. Three kinds of conventional house bricks from two different locations were tested as MFC reactors and their electrochemical characteristics were analysed. European standard off-the-shelf house bricks generated a maximum power of 1.2 mW (13.5 mW m−2) when fed with human urine. Ugandan house air bricks produced a maximum power of 2.7 mW (32.8 mW m−2), again with human urine. Different cathode types made by surface modifications using two kinds of carbon compounds and two PTFE based binders were tested in both wet and dry cathode conditions. The effects of both anode and cathode sizes, electrode connection, electrode configuration, and feedstock on brick MFC power generation were also studied. Water absorption test results showed higher porosity for the Ugandan air bricks than European engineering bricks, which contributed to its higher performance. This study suggests that the idea of converting existing and future buildings to micro-power stations and micro-treatment plants with the help of integrated MFCs and other renewable technologies is achievable, which will be a step closer to a truly sustainable life.


You, J., Rimbu, G. A., Wallis, L., Greenman, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2019). Living architecture: Toward energy generating buildings powered by microbial fuel cells. Frontiers in Energy Research, 7,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 22, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 12, 2019
Publication Date Sep 12, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 3, 2020
Journal Frontiers in Energy Research
Electronic ISSN 2296-598X
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Keywords microbial fuel cell (MFC), living architecture, building brick, nearly zero-energy building, self-sustainable system
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Living Architecture: Toward Energy Generating Buildings Powered by Microbial Fuel Cells (850 Kb)


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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2019 You, Rimbu, Wallis, Greenman and Ieropoulos. This is an openaccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the
original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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