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In order to prolong the network lifetime, energy-aware protocols should be designed to adapt the characteristic of wireless sensor networks. Clustering is a kind of key routing technique used to reduce energy consumption. In this paper, a new clustering algorithm MNLC (Maximum Network Lifetime Clustering Algorithm) for energy heterogeneous sensor networks is proposed. The algorithm uses distributed, dynamic clustering process. On the one hand, cluster-head selection is primarily determined by the residual energy level of each node, on the other hand, the ordinary nodes select which cluster to join according to the remaining energy level of the candidate cluster-heads and the parameter of communication cost in a cluster, so as to effectively achieve the balanced distribution of energy loss in the network. Simulation results show that MNLC could better implement load balance and prolong the network lifetime in heterogeneous environments.