Deployment of the microbial fuel cell latrine in ghana for decentralized sanitation

Cynthia J. Castro, Joseph E. Goodwill, Bradley Rogers, Mark Henderson, Caitlyn S. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A microbial fuel cell (MFC) latrine that treats human waste and produces compost and electricity was deployed in Agona Nyakrom, Ghana. After solid wastes were composted, the MFC treated organic matter and nitrogen from the remaining liquid stream. Organic matter was oxidized in the anode by anode-respiring bacteria that transfer electrons to an external circuit, producing electricity, which was observed to be 268 nW/m2after two years of operation. A separate nitrification stage transformed ammonium present in urine, to nitrate. Nitrate was reduced to nitrogen gas by cathode-oxidizing bacteria in the cathode completing nitrogen removal. The MFC Latrine was constructed on-site using local labor and materials. Evidence of total nitrogen removal and power production was observed while the MFC Latrine was in operation. Multiple user challenges and maintenance affected the performance, yielding low power output. The initial findings suggest that the viability of the system is directly correlated with its use. Incorporating the MFC Latrine system into the user community's typical social practices is key to a successful deployment of the MFC Latrine as a sanitation technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-671
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Decentralized treatment
  • Ecological sanitation
  • Latrine
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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