Influence of anodic biofilm growth on bioelectricity production in single chambered mediatorless microbial fuel cell using mixed anaerobic consortia

S Venkata Mohan, S Veer Raghavulu, P N Sarma
Biosensors & Bioelectronics 2008 September 15, 24 (1): 41-7
The effect of anodic biofilm growth and extent of its coverage on the anodic surface of a single chambered mediatorless microbial fuel cell (MFC) was evaluated for bioelectricity generation using designed synthetic wastewater (DSW) and chemical wastewater (CW) as substrates and anaerobic mixed consortia as biocatalyst. Three MFCs (plain graphite electrodes, air cathode, Nafion membrane) were operated separately with variable biofilm coverage [control; anode surface coverage (ASC), 0%], partially developed biofilm [PDB; ASC approximately 44%; 90 days] and fully developed biofilm [FDB; ASC approximately 96%; 180 days] under acidophilic conditions (pH 6) at room temperature. The study depicted the effectiveness of anodic biofilm formation in enhancing the extracellular electron transfer in the absence of mediators. Higher specific power production [29 mW/kg COD(R) (CW and DSW)], specific energy yield [100.46 J/kg VSS (CW)], specific power yield [0.245 W/kg VSS (DSW); 0.282 W/kg VSS (CW)] and substrate removal efficiency of 66.07% (substrate degradation rate, 0.903 kgCOD/m(3)-day) along with effective functioning fuel cell at relatively higher resistance [4.5 komega (DSW); 14.9 komega (CW)] correspond to sustainable power [0.008 mW (DSW); 0.021 mW (CW)] and effective electron discharge (at higher resistance) and recovery (Coulomb efficiency; 27.03%) were observed especially with FDB operation. Cyclic voltammetry analysis documented six-fold increment in energy output from control (1.812 mJ) to PDB (10.666 mJ) operations and about eight-fold increment in energy from PDB to FDB (86.856 mJ). Biofilm configured MFC was shown to have the potential to selectively support the growth of electrogenic bacteria with robust characteristics, capable of generating higher power yields along with substrate degradation especially operated with characteristically complex wastewaters as substrates.

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