Microbial fuel cells meet with external resistance

Krishna Katuri*, Keith Scott, Ian M. Head, Cristian Picioreanu, Tom P. Curtis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


The influence of external load on the composition of the anodic biofilm microbial community and biomass yield was investigated in a microbial fuel cell fed with glucose and domestic wastewater was used as source of electrogens. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments revealed distinct differences in anodic bacterial communities formed at the anode of each MFC operated under a different external load. These results implied that in an MFC, electrogenic bacteria were enriched under higher current densities, i.e., low external load, and were able to sustain better current and effluent quality. The influence of the external resistance applied to the MFCs during formation of the bacterial communities from sewage wastewater was shown to have no significant effect on power performance of the MFCs nor to have a significant influence on their anodic activity with both glucose and brewery wastewater as fuel. As expected, current generation, COD removal and the biomass yield were all directly influenced by the external load. Significantly, when operated under lower external load, the biomass yield in the MFC was less than that in conventional anaerobic digestion (i.e., control).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2758-2766
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Anode potentials
  • Biomass yield
  • External resistance
  • Microbial community composition
  • Microbial fuel cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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