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Women in Science and Engineering Explores Renewable Energy

Women in Science CHS WISE The Cheltenham High School Women in Science and Engineering club, led by juniors Lisa Lam, Rose Fevrier, Mia Weisman and Venus Agbadan, rolled up their collective sleeves this past week to make MudWatts, which utilize the microbes in compost to create energy and eventually become a fully functional battery. The project was made possible through an innovation grant from the Cheltenham School District Foundation.

The MudWatt is a living fuel cell powered by the micro-organisms naturally living in the soil. Although not visible with the naked eye, micro-organisms or “microbes,” which are one-tenth of the thickness of a human hair, live throughout virtually all of the planet's soil and sediment. Among these diverse communities of microbes are particular species with the unique ability to release electrons outside their own bodies during respiration. The MudWatt capitalizes on this ability by providing mud-based microbes with two conductive graphite discs, called the anode and cathode. The anode is placed within the mud where the electrogenic microbes can grow, while the cathode is placed on top exposing it to oxygen in the air.

As WISE’s work with renewable energy continues, the students would like to explore creating charging stations in the district’s cafeterias. As another energy focus, they would like to explore conversion of fire to electricity through a thermoelectric generator, sending electricity to a USB charging port. These items would be used to charge cell phones, heat food and show the possibilities of future energy usage.