Integrating microbial fuel cell with sedum green roof for stormwater retention and renewable energy generation
(1) Homestead High School, Mequon, Wisconsin, (2) Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missourihttps://doi.org/10.59720/22-204
Climate change brings frequent and intense storms, which challenge aging stormwater infrastructures. As a sustainable stormwater solution, green roofs are being more frequently used in urban areas. However, high installation and maintenance costs have limited applications of green roofs on a large scale. A plant microbial fuel cell (P-MFC) is a novel technology that uses bacteria living around the root of plants to generate electricity. This study explores the integration of P-MFCs with an extensive green roof module for the dual benefit of stormwater runoff reduction and renewable energy generation. While most P-MFC systems in the literature are based on flooded plants, the green roof MFC developed in this study uses sedum plants which are among the most common vegetation layers for green roof solutions. We hypothesized that MFC efficiency could be improved by introducing a water storage layer and capillary sub-irrigation. Moreover, the capillary irrigation wick can function as a salt bridge to further enhance power generation. Three prototypes were fabricated to test our hypotheses, including a control unit without sub-irrigation and two units with capillary irrigation and one with additional salt bridge configuration. Experiments demonstrated that capillary irrigation and the salt bridge configuration significantly increased P-MFC’s power density and decreased the internal resistance. The research demonstrated that green roof modules with integrated P-MFCs can be a renewable energy generator, promoting the adoption of green roofs as sustainable solutions for climate resilience by simultaneously reducing storm floods, capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and producing green electricity.
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