Poly(vinyl alcohol) separators improve the coulombic efficiency of activated carbon cathodes in microbial fuel cells

Type
Article

Authors
Chen, Guang
Zhang, Fang
Logan, Bruce E.
Hickner, Michael A.

KAUST Grant Number
KUS-I1-003-13

Date
2013-09

Abstract
High-performance microbial fuel cell (MFC) air cathodes were constructed using a combination of inexpensive materials for the oxygen reduction cathode catalyst and the electrode separator. A poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)-based electrode separator enabled high coulombic efficiencies (CEs) in MFCs with activated carbon (AC) cathodes without significantly decreasing power output. MFCs with AC cathodes and PVA separators had CEs (43%-89%) about twice those of AC cathodes lacking a separator (17%-55%) or cathodes made with platinum supported on carbon catalyst (Pt/C) and carbon cloth (CE of 20%-50%). Similar maximum power densities were observed for AC-cathode MFCs with (840 ± 42 mW/m2) or without (860 ± 10 mW/m2) the PVA separator after 18 cycles (36 days). Compared to MFCs with Pt-based cathodes, the cost of the AC-based cathodes with PVA separators was substantially reduced. These results demonstrated that AC-based cathodes with PVA separators are an inexpensive alternative to expensive Pt-based cathodes for construction of larger-scale MFC reactors. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Citation
Chen G, Zhang F, Logan BE, Hickner MA (2013) Poly(vinyl alcohol) separators improve the coulombic efficiency of activated carbon cathodes in microbial fuel cells. Electrochemistry Communications 34: 150–152. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.elecom.2013.05.026.

Acknowledgements
This research was supported by Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Publisher
Elsevier BV

Journal
Electrochemistry Communications

DOI
10.1016/j.elecom.2013.05.026

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