Our work on “Early Characterization of Soil Microbial Fuel Cells” was accepted at IEEE ISCAS 2022.
This paper discusses experiments on soil-based microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as energy scavenging sources. We explain the mechanism of operation for MFCs, perform controlled laboratory experiments of MFCs, and deploy a small-scale insitu pilot in an active farm. We find that traditional energy harvester ICs draw power too aggressively, which reduces overall energy capture. We show that isolated MFCs can be combined in series or parallel to improve the voltage or current output of the harvesting source. Lastly, we observe that under a real-world, drip-irrigated agricultural setting, MFC output is appreciably lower, but consistent at 0.5-2 microwatts.