Assessment of Microbial Fuel Cell Configurations and Power Densities

Bruce E. Logan, Maxwell J Wallack, Kyoung-Yeol Kim, Weihua He, Yujie Feng, Pascal Saikaly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations

Abstract

Different microbial electrochemical technologies are being developed for a many diverse applications, including wastewater treatment, biofuel production, water desalination, remote power sources, and as biosensors. Current and energy densities will always be limited relative to batteries and chemical fuel cells, but these technologies have other advantages based on the self-sustaining nature of the microorganisms that can donate or accept electrons from an electrode, the range of fuels that can be used, and versatility in the chemicals that can be produced. The high cost of membranes will likely limit applications of microbial electrochemical technologies that might require a membrane. For microbial fuel cells, which do not need a membrane, questions remain on whether larger-scale systems can produce power densities similar to those obtained in laboratory-scale systems. It is shown here that configuration and fuel (pure chemicals in laboratory media versus actual wastewaters) remain the key factors in power production, rather than the scale of the application. Systems must be scaled up through careful consideration of electrode spacing and packing per unit volume of reactor.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology Letters
Volume2
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015

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