Power generation using an activated carbon and metal mesh cathode in a microbial fuel cell


Zhang, Fang
Cheng, Shaoan
Pant, Deepak
Bogaert, Gilbert Van
Logan, Bruce E.

KAUST Grant Number


An inexpensive activated carbon (AC) air cathode was developed as an alternative to a platinum-catalyzed electrode for oxygen reduction in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). AC was cold-pressed with a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) binder to form the cathode around a Ni mesh current collector. This cathode construction avoided the need for carbon cloth or a metal catalyst, and produced a cathode with high activity for oxygen reduction at typical MFC current densities. Tests with the AC cathode produced a maximum power density of 1220 mW/m2 (normalized to cathode projected surface area; 36 W/m3 based on liquid volume) compared to 1060 mW/m2 obtained by Pt catalyzed carbon cloth cathode. The Coulombic efficiency ranged from 15% to 55%. These findings show that AC is a cost-effective material for achieving useful rates of oxygen reduction in air cathode MFCs. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Zhang F, Cheng S, Pant D, Bogaert GV, Logan BE (2009) Power generation using an activated carbon and metal mesh cathode in a microbial fuel cell. Electrochemistry Communications 11: 2177–2179. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.elecom.2009.09.024.

The authors thank D.W. Jones for help with the analytical measurements and M. Hazen for EDS analysis. This research was supported by Award KUS-11-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The research at VITO is supported by a Grant from Milieu en Energietechnologie InnovatiePlatform (Project M8463 - Sewage Plus).

Elsevier BV

Electrochemistry Communications


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