Ohio State University researchers have developed a new microbial fuel cell powered by the breakdown of cellulose by a variety of bovine rumen-fluid bacteria. The unit is a redesign of a larger model created a few years ago. The new cell is a quarter of the size of the original model, yet can produce about three times the power.

The researchers reported the findings at the American Chemical Society meeting last summer. Meanwhile, scientists continue to refine the microbial fuel cells, and are trying to figure out how to grow mass amounts of rumen microbes in the laboratory for possible large-scale use in the future.