Power generation by packed-bed air-cathode microbial fuel cells


Zhang, Xiaoyuan
Shi, Juan
Liang, Peng
Wei, Jincheng
Huang, Xia
Zhang, Chuanyi
Logan, Bruce E.

KAUST Grant Number


Catalysts and catalyst binders are significant portions of the cost of microbial fuel cell (MFC) cathodes. Many materials have been tested as aqueous cathodes, but air-cathodes are needed to avoid energy demands for water aeration. Packed-bed air-cathodes were constructed without expensive binders or diffusion layers using four inexpensive carbon-based materials. Cathodes made from activated carbon produced the largest maximum power density of 676±93mW/m2, followed by semi-coke (376±47mW/m2), graphite (122±14mW/m2) and carbon felt (60±43mW/m2). Increasing the mass of activated carbon and semi-coke from 5 to ≥15g significantly reduced power generation because of a reduction in oxygen transfer due to a thicker water layer in the cathode (~3 or ~6cm). These results indicate that a thin packed layer of activated carbon or semi-coke can be used to make inexpensive air-cathodes for MFCs. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Zhang X, Shi J, Liang P, Wei J, Huang X, et al. (2013) Power generation by packed-bed air-cathode microbial fuel cells. Bioresource Technology 142: 109–114. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2013.05.014.

This research was supported by the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program) (No. 2011AA060907), an award from the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, a scholarship from Shanghai Tongji Gao Tingyao Environmental Science and Technology Development Foundation, an award from Tsinghua University, and Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We thank Dr. Xiaoxin Cao for comments and suggestions, and Deepak Pant at VITO for providing the activated carbon powder cathodes.

Elsevier BV

Bioresource Technology


PubMed ID

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