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Microbial fuel cells with highly active aerobic biocathodes

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journal contribution
posted on 05.02.2021, 11:15 by EM Milner, D Popescu, T Curtis, IM Head, K Scott, Eileen Yu
© 2016 Published by Elsevier B.V. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which convert organic waste to electricity, could be used to make the wastewater infrastructure more energy efficient and sustainable. However, platinum and other non-platinum chemical catalysts used for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at the cathode of MFCs are unsustainable due to their high cost and long-term degradation. Aerobic biocathodes, which use microorganisms as the biocatalysts for cathode ORR, are a good alternative to chemical catalysts. In the current work, high-performing aerobic biocathodes with an onset potential for the ORR of +0.4 V vs. Ag/AgCl were enriched from activated sludge in electrochemical half-cells poised at -0.1 and + 0.2 V vs. Ag/AgCl. Gammaproteobacteria, distantly related to any known cultivated gammaproteobacterial lineage, were identified as dominant in these working electrode biofilms (23.3-44.3% of reads in 16S rRNA gene Ion Torrent libraries), and were in very low abundance in non-polarised control working electrode biofilms (0.5-0.7%). These Gammaproteobacteria were therefore most likely responsible for the high activity of biologically catalysed ORR. In MFC tests, a high-performing aerobic biocathode increased peak power 9-fold from 7 to 62 μW cm-2 in comparison to an unmodified carbon cathode, which was similar to peak power with a platinum-doped cathode at 70 μW cm-2.

Funding

The Supergen Biological Fuel Cells Consortium 2010-2014 (CORE)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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History

School

  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Department

  • Chemical Engineering

Published in

Journal of Power Sources

Volume

324

Pages

8 - 16

Publisher

ELSEVIER

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Elsevier under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

13/05/2016

Publication date

2016-05-21

Copyright date

2016

ISSN

0378-7753

eISSN

1873-2755

Language

en

Depositor

Deposit date: 5 February 2021