Scientific research has advanced on different microbial fuel cell (MFC) technologies in the laboratory at an amazing pace, with power densities having reached over 1 kW/m3 (reactor volume) and to 6.9 W/m2 (anode area) under optimal conditions. The main challenge is to bring these technologies out of the laboratory and engineer practical systems for bioenergy production at larger scales. Recent advances in new types of electrodes, a better understanding of the impact of membranes and separators on performance of these systems, and results from several new pilot-scale tests are all good indicators that commercialization of the technology could be possible within a few years. Some of the newest advances and future challenges are reviewed here with respect to practical applications of these MFCs for renewable energy production and other applications. © 2009 Springer-Verlag.