He, Weihua; Yang, Wulin; Tian, Yushi; Zhu, Xiuping; Liu, Jia; Feng, Yujie; Logan, Bruce(Journal of Power Sources, Elsevier BV, 2016-09-30)[Article]
Large differences between the water and air pressure in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) can deform and damage cathodes. To avoid deformation, the cathode air pressure was controlled to balance pressure differences between the air and water. Raising the air pressures from 0 to 10 kPa at a set cathode potential of −0.3 V (versus Ag/AgCl) enhanced cathode performance by 17%, but pressures ≥25 kPa decreased current and resulted in air leakage into the solution. Matching the air pressure with the water pressure avoided cathode deformation and improved performance. The maximum power density increased by 15%, from 1070 ± 20 to 1230 ± 70 mW m, with balanced air and water pressures of 10–25 kPa. Oxygen partial pressures ≥12.5 kPa in the cathode compartment maintained the oxygen reduction rate to be within 92 ± 1% of that in ambient air. The use of pressurized air flow through the cathode compartments can enable closer spacing of the cathodes compared to passive gas transfer systems, which could make the reactor design more compact. The energy cost of pressurizing the cathodes was estimated to be smaller than the increase in power that resulted from the use of pressurized cathodes.
Hatzell, Marta C.; Ivanov, Ivan; D. Cusick, Roland; Zhu, Xiuping; Logan, Bruce E.(Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2014)[Article]
Currently, there is an enormous amount of energy available from salinity gradients, which could be used for clean hydrogen production. Through the use of a favorable oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) cathode, the projected electrical energy generated by a single pass ammonium bicarbonate reverse electrodialysis (RED) system approached 78 W h m-3. However, if RED is operated with the less favorable (higher overpotential) hydrogen evolution electrode and hydrogen gas is harvested, the energy recovered increases by as much ∼1.5× to 118 W h m-3. Indirect hydrogen production through coupling an RED stack with an external electrolysis system was only projected to achieve 35 W h m-3 or ∼1/3 of that produced through direct hydrogen generation.
He, Weihua; Zhang, Xiaoyuan; Liu, Jia; Zhu, Xiuping; Feng, Yujie; Logan, Bruce E.(Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2016)[Article]
A new type of scalable MFC was developed based on using alternating graphite fiber brush array anode modules and dual cathode modules in order to simplify construction, operation, and maintenance of the electrodes. The modular MFC design was tested with a single (two-sided) cathode module with a specific surface area of 29 m2 m−3 based on a total liquid volume (1.4 L; 20 m2 m−3 using the total reactor volume of 2 L), and two brush anode modules. Three different types of spacers were used in the cathode module to provide structural stability, and enhance air flow relative to previous cassette (combined anode–cathode) designs: a low-profile wire spacer; a rigid polycarbonate column spacer; and a flexible plastic mesh spacer. The best performance was obtained using the wire spacer that produced a maximum power density of 1100 ± 10 mW m−2 of cathode (32 ± 0.3 W m−3 based on liquid volume) with an acetate-amended wastewater (COD = 1010 ± 30 mg L−1), compared to 1010 ± 10 mW m−2 for the column and 650 ± 20 mW m−2 for the mesh spacers. Anode potentials were unaffected by the different types of spacers. Raw domestic wastewater produced a maximum of 400 ± 8 mW m−2 under fed batch conditions (wire-spacers), which is one of the highest power densities for this fuel. Over time the maximum power was reduced to 300 ± 10 mW m−2 and 275 ± 7 mW m−2 for the two anode compartments, with only slightly less power of 250 ± 20 mW m−2 obtained under continuous flow conditions. In fixed-resistance tests, the average COD removal was 57 ± 5% at a hydraulic retention time of 8 h. These results show that this modular MFC design can both simplify reactor construction and enable relatively high power generation from even relatively dilute wastewater.
Tian, Yushi; He, Weihua; Zhu, Xiuping; Yang, Wulin; Ren, Nanqi; Logan, Bruce E.(ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2016-11-03)[Article]
A new three-electrode electrocoagulation reactor was investigated to increase the rate of removal of phosphate from domestic wastewater. Initially, two electrodes (graphite plate and air cathode) were connected with 0.5 V of voltage applied for a short charging time (∼10 s). The direction of the electric field was then reversed, by switching the power supply lead from the anode to the cathode, and connecting the other lead to a sacrificial aluminum mesh anode for removal of phosphate by electrocoagulation. The performance of this process, called a reverse-electric field, air cathode electrocoagulation (REAEC) reactor, was tested using domestic wastewater as a function of charging time and electrocoagulation time. REAEC wastewater treatment removed up to 98% of phosphate in 15 min (inert electrode working time of 10 s, current density of 1 mA/cm2, and 15 min total electrocoagulation time), which was 6% higher than that of the control (no inert electrode). The energy demand varied from 0.05 kWh/m3 for 85% removal in 5 min, to 0.14 kwh/m3 for 98% removal in 15 min. These results indicate that the REAEC can reduce the energy demands and treatment times compared to conventional electrocoagulation processes for phosphate removal from wastewater.
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