Important achievement in the area of fuel cells for young textile institute: Institut für Textiltechnik Augsburg gGmbH wins f-cell award 2017

Secretary of Environment Franz Untersteller, Georg Stegschuster Copyright: © Peter Sauber Agentur / Emmerling

The Institut für Textiltechnik Augsburg gGmbH (ITA Augsburg) is honored with the f-cell award 2017 in the category research and development with it’s contribution "textile carbon fibre electrodes for microbial fuel cells (TexKoMBZ)". 

  Figure 1: Schematics of a microbial fuell cell Copyright: © RWTH Aachen Figure 1: Schematics of a microbial fuell cell

Microbial fuel cell (MFC)

Beside the known fuel cells which are used as an alternative drive system for automobiles there is a new and very interesting application of the technology in the environmental area. The MFC contains special microorganisms which are able to produce electrical energy out of organic material through their metabolism (Figure 1).

"This project opens up a completely new field of application", says Secretary of Environment Franz Untersteller, "namely to sustainable clean waste water and to generate electrical energy at the same time".

A prime example is the paper manufacturing industry which invests large amounts of energy to clean waste water every year. The usage of the MFC can save up to 50 % of the energy costs which is shown by a study of the "Papiertechnische Stiftung".

Carbon electrode

The main tasks of the electrode material is to provide as much growth area as possible and to fill out the reaction volume to a maximum degree with the productive microorganisms. Those are the aims of the research project TexKoMBZ (Nr. 031B0087A) which is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the idea contest "new products for the bio-economy".

Like no other carbon based material for electrodes textile surfaces can be customized to match the needs of the MFC.

Contribution of the Institut für Textiltechnik Augsburg

ITA Augsburg is responsible within the project for development and production of the 3D-electrode and for the improvement of the electric discharge.

The evaluation of different types of weaving and production parameters as well as a large variety of electrode topographies in model reactors is building the foundation for the subsequent usage of up scaled electrodes in a MFC reactor.

The outcome of the project will be a material that can be manufactured repeatedly and precisely concerning the porosity, the mechanical stability and flexibility as well as the electrical characteristics.

"We consider it a major success for the ITA Augsburg, which was founded two years ago, to be honored with this prestigious award for one of the very first projects", said Professor Stefan Schlichter (Head of ITA Augsburg).

f-cell award 2017

The f-cell award donated by the state of Baden-Württemberg aims to acknowledge outstanding developments in one of the most interesting technologies of our time as well as to stimulate further innovations. The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector together with the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation award the prize for the 17th time.

Project leader Liesa Pötschke (Institute of Applied Microbiology of RWTH Aachen) and Georg Stegschuster (Institut für Textiltechnik Augsburg gGmbH) were honored during the "Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition" in Stuttgart by Secretary Franz Untersteller.


Left to right: Secretary of Environment Franz Untersteller, Liesa Pötschke (Institute of Applied Microbiology RWTH Aachen) Georg Stegschuster (ITA Augsburg)