HONOURABLE MENTION

Gross Electricity

My project helps provide people in developing countries with electricity. The electricity is much cheaper, and is provided by converting poop or mud into electricity.
Parth Kale
Grade 9

Problem

Problem -

Households in developing countries are in need of basic essential things such as electricity. Although electricity either cannot be provided, or is too expensive in these developing countries. How, and from where can we harness cheaper, more affordable electricity, which is easily accessible to households in developing countries? 

Method

Hypothesis -

If we can harness the electrons that are released by electrogenic bacteria’s which are found in mud, then we can provide more affordable electricity to households in developing countries because this electricity is made from mud/poop, which can be available anywhere, and is very affordable.

Variables

Manipulated Variable:

In my innovation project I am going to always try to change the amount of resistance in the circuit with a larger resistor.

Responding Variable:

Changing the resistance in a circuit will show me what is the best amount of resistance in this circuit, which can provide us with the most amount of electricity.

Controlled Variables:

1. The amount of mud

2. The size of the container that the mud is inside

3. The object that is getting powered so the output power required remains the same (lightbulb)    

Materials - 

The following are the materials I needed to build my machine

  • Container with lid
  • Electrical chip (available at local store – e.g., Walmart)
  • Anode
  • Cathode
  • 2 copper wires
  • Mud
  • 1V < 5V Light bulb
  • Safety Gloves
  • 47Ω < 4.7kΩ resistors

This is how the machine looks like:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lfjGWvRdRji5Cb2097tOK_lVHktiOr0i/view?usp=sharing (Please Copy and Paste this link into your web browser)

Plans/Method

I have made the device that generates electricity (additional details in log book). The next step for me will be to gather data from the device, such as what resistor one should use, what quantity of mud/poop one should use for the most gain of electricity, and etc.

Timeline/Prediction of when steps will occur

Now I will gather information about the machine that converts poop (in this case mud) into electricity. My research is about how to gain the most out of this machine. Firstly, I will experiment various resistors between the range of 47Ω to 4.7kΩ. Then I will look into how much quantity of mud is the most efficient, and which type of mud is the most efficient (lake-bottom mud, store bought soil with added nutrients, etc.). All these experiments will tell me the best configuration on how to get the most power (watts) out of this machine.

 

 

Analysis

**Due to hygiene purposes, I am using various mud samples to demonstrate this innovation project instead of poop (although the machine can obtain electricity from both sources)**

My project is an Innovation based project. Now-a-days electricity powers everything, from a light bulb, to even life saving equipment’s like a respirator. Electricity is a vital part of our society. However, my main motivation was that on our planet, there are many developing countries which are in need of electricity. They need electricity so that they can power a light bulb, and not eat in the dark, they need electricity so that hospitals can perform life saving operations. Not only that but I have seen pictures of developing countries, where even proper disposal of waste cannot be taken care of due to shortage of funds/money. This majority of this waste includes human excretes. Not only does human excretes contaminate drinking water, but also causes various deadly diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis, Polio, and many more. Therefore, this machine can, not only provide cheap elctricity, but it can also give a better sewage system.

So how does this system work when poop gets converted into electricity? Well, in almost any mud on earth, there is bacteria called electrogenic bacteria. When these bacteria eat, and break down organic or inorganic substrates in the soil, their digestive system generates electrons. These electrons are then returned back into the soil. This procedure occurs inside a container. The machine contains a cathode (positive) electrode, and an anode (negative) electrode. This in turn produces a complete circuit. The electrons move throughout the mud. Then an electrical chip harnesses this power in order to extract electricity from the mud, and there you have electricity. In case the machine's power output is less than what is needed, a step up transformer can be placed in the circuit in order to get a higher voltage.

Not only are you able to harness electricity from this machine, but it also produces a bi-product of water, therefore people in developing countries don’t only get a cost-effective way of producing electricity, but also water. This unpotable water, if gone through a filtration plant can become potable. Therefore, this innovation project is a win-win situation for people in developing countries. Not only do they get provided with electricity, but also water, and they have a cleaner place to live. All their basic necessities to survive are fulfilled with this innovation project.

After doing various testing on things like which resistor to use, and what quantity of mud is optimal, and where the mud is retrieved from, I got many interesting results - (additional details in log book).

Resistor - After analyzing the resistors, and their efficiency, as well as recording the data. I found out that the power peaks at 1500 Ohms. Below is my graph:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/191nuvjrPQho0bRRj0sfFNB2gs6PlrflN/view?usp=sharing - (Please Copy and Paste this link into your web browser)

Quantity of Mud - According to my tests, I found out that 300mL of mud can power 1 regular sized lightbulb (10 Watts). The houses in developing countries are much smaller than our regular sized houses here in Canada. They have the potential to use around 150 Watts of power each day. This includes light bulbs, devices like phones, (possibly a fan). Therefore, if 300mL of mud can power 10 Watts, then, 4,500mL (4.5L) of mud/poop can provide enough power for one average sized house in developing countries (150 Watts).

Location Mud is Retrieved from - After testing mud samples from bottom of lakes, store bought mud, organic mud, and backyard mud, I found that the mud retrieved from the bottom of the lake provided the most efficiency and power. This was because of the mud's humid environment. The moisture in the mud allowed the electrogenic bacteria to cultivate more than they would have in other sources of mud. In developing countries with scarcity of water, and lakes, the sewage components can provide a similar cultivatation rate of electrogenic bacteria as lake bottom mud. This result also tells me that poop will be a great place for these electrogenic bacteria to cultivate in; this is because of the 90% moisture in poop.

Best Combination - After testing various combinations, I found out that the combination of 1500 Ohms of resistance, and 300mL of lake bottom mud, make the best combination in order to provide the most power (watts), and the best results.

 

Conclusion

From all the information we got from the analysis stage, I conclude that the best configuration for this machine would be with a resistance power of 1500 Ohms, which contains the highest amount of moisture. Plus, my hypothesis was also correct. In my hypothesis, I stated "If we can harness the electrons that are released by electrogenic bacteria’s which are found in mud, then we can provide more affordable electricity to households in developing countries because this electricity is made from mud/poop, which can be available anywhere, and is very affordable." This is exactly what happened. The electrogenic bacteria converted mud into electricity that can be harnessed to power anything. 

To answer my question, we can use this machine which converts mud/poop into electricity to provide, a cheaper, more affordable electricity, which is easily accessible to households in developing countries. Therefore, from all these findings we can apply this technology into the societies of developing countries to provide them with a better lifestyle, and the basic nessecity: electricity.

 

 

 

Acknowledgement

This project wouldn't have been possible without the support and guidance of my science teacher; Mrs. Shoults. For this project I haven't just used human resources, but also various other websites that can be found in the citations section.