Copper anode corrosion affects power generation in microbial fuel cells

Type
Article

Authors
Zhu, Xiuping
Logan, Bruce E.

KAUST Grant Number
KUS-I1-003-13

Online Publication Date
2013-07-16

Print Publication Date
2014-03

Date
2013-07-16

Abstract
Non-corrosive, carbon-based materials are usually used as anodes in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). In some cases, however, metals have been used that can corrode (e.g. copper) or that are corrosion resistant (e.g. stainless steel, SS). Corrosion could increase current through galvanic (abiotic) current production or by increasing exposed surface area, or decrease current due to generation of toxic products from corrosion. In order to directly examine the effects of using corrodible metal anodes, MFCs with Cu were compared with reactors using SS and carbon cloth anodes. MFCs with Cu anodes initially showed high current generation similar to abiotic controls, but subsequently they produced little power (2 mW m-2). Higher power was produced with microbes using SS (12 mW m-2) or carbon cloth (880 mW m-2) anodes, with no power generated by abiotic controls. These results demonstrate that copper is an unsuitable anode material, due to corrosion and likely copper toxicity to microorganisms. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.

Citation
Zhu X, Logan BE (2013) Copper anode corrosion affects power generation in microbial fuel cells. Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology 89: 471–474. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jctb.4156.

Acknowledgements
The authors acknowledge support from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) by Award KUS-I1-003-13. We thank Mike Greenwald for help in Cu2+ measurement using atomic absorption flame emission spectrophotometry.

Publisher
Wiley

Journal
Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology

DOI
10.1002/jctb.4156

Permanent link to this record