$25,000 Scholarship Recipient
Cos Cob, CT
Project Title: “Optimization of a Microbial Fuel Cell to Drive a Bioelectrochemically Assisted Wastewater Treatment.”
The modern day energy crisis has inspired the search for new forms of sustainable and environmentally acceptable energy. Conventional wastewater treatment methods have contributed to this increasing demand, due to their cost and energy intensive treatment technologies. “Optimization of a Microbial Fuel Cell to Drive a Bioelectrochemically Assisted Wastewater Treatment Reactor,” Ryota fabricated a novel dual hydrogen production and water purification device using wastewater as its sole fuel source. Microbial Fuel Cells exploited the natural processes of the bacteria inhabiting wastewater to supplement electricity for the non-spontaneous production of hydrogen gas. The expensive platinum catalyst was replaced with a non-metal carbon nanotube catalyst fabricated at 1% of the cost and the optimized prototype ultimately generated 67% more electricity than past models. In addition to continuously generating renewable energy, the system eliminated 95% of organic pollutants in the wastewater, paralleling traditional wastewater treatment plants. Such reactors may be implemented in developing nations to produce energy using only domestic waste.
By replacing artificial power supplies traditionally driving the nonspontaneous production of hydrogen with an independent microbial fuel cell, this research establishes an autonomous system of continuously generating energy. Modifications to electrode and catalysts have reduced capital costs and increased material stability, setting the stage for large scale manufacturing. Reactors may be implemented in developing nations to produce electricity using only domestic waste in areas without stable electricity grids. Alternatively, the reactors may be integrated into traditional wastewater plants to provide a reliable energy source, while simultaneously eliminating pollutants.
Ryota recently graduated Greenwich High School as the salutatorian. He will be attending Harvard University in the fall, where he hopes to study Applied Mathematics and another discipline in science. Intending to pursue a career at the crossroads of entrepreneurship and science, Ryota hopes to create practical solutions to societal problems by developing technology that can be used outside of the lab.
Click the links below to view hi-res photos of Ryota:
Click here to view the full listing of the 2012 Davidson Fellows.
Click here to view Ryota's press release.
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