Microbial Fuel Cell

Microbial Fuel Cell Microbial Fuel Cell (hi-res image)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is seeking a commercialization partner for a microbial fuel cell capable of producing energy resources, such as hydrogen gas, from biomass via a pyrolysis-microbial electrolysis process.  The ORNL Partnerships Office is now accepting licensing applications through November 3, 2017. 

Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) have a significant benefit in producing energy using environmentally-friendly and renewable means.  MCFs can accept and convert waste products, such biomass by-products, which provide an economic advantage.  The ORNL MCF system creates a biofilm that allows this system to have improved electrical efficiency with reduced power fluctuations.

ORNL researchers have developed the MFC system to be capable of hydrogen production from biomass feedstock.  The MFC system produces hydrogen from biomass via a pyrolysis-microbial electrolysis process.  Conversion of the intermediate bio-oil derived from pyrolysis into hydrogen occurs via a microbial electrolysis process that enables high conversion efficiency, yield and productivity of biohydrogen, as well as relatively low greenhouse gas emissions.  The MFCs for hydrogen gas production can be configured, for example, using an assistive anodic potential and eliminating oxygen from the cathode such that hydrogen can be produced at the cathode.  This provides an environmentally clean fuel with an environmentally-friendly production system.


  • Capable of converting waste products to energy resources
  • Renewable system
  • Environmentally-friendly production system

Intellectual Property:

     --  Microbial Fuel Cell with Improved Anode  (UTB ID 200802041)

     -- US Patent 7,695,834 issued on April 13, 2010.

     --  Hybrid thermochemical bioelectrolytic reforming of biomass to hydrogen  (UTB ID 201503487)

     --  US Non-Provisional Patent Application 15/623,794 filed on June 15, 2017. 

Technology Overviews and Publications:

ORNL is accepting licensing applications for review from all interested parties, and license applications will be evaluated based on prospective partners' ability and commitment to successfully commercialize the technology.

Please contact Jennifer Caldwell, Group Leader, Technology Commercialization, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 865-574-4180, caldwelljt@ornl.gov with any questions and to obtain a license application for this opportunity. 

You can also access the ORNL License Application at https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/license_application_0.pd

Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.  Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under its Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725.

National Laboratory Licensing Guide :  https://www.ornl.gov/partnerships/licensing-guidelines.