Continuous power generation and microbial community structure of the anode biofilms in a three-stage microbial fuel cell system

Kyungmi Chung, Satoshi Okabe
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2009, 83 (5): 965-77
A mediator-less three-stage two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) system was developed and operated continuously for more than 1.5 years to evaluate continuous power generation while treating artificial wastewater containing glucose (10 mM) concurrently. A stable power density of 28 W/m(3) was attained with an anode hydraulic retention time of 4.5 h and phosphate buffer as the cathode electrolyte. An overall dissolved organic carbon removal ratio was about 85%, and coulombic efficiency was about 46% in this MFC system. We also analyzed the microbial community structure of anode biofilms in each MFC. Since the environment in each MFC was different due to passing on the products to the next MFC in series, the microbial community structure was different accordingly. The anode biofilm in the first MFC consisted mainly of bacteria belonging to the Gammaproteobacteria, identified as Aeromonas sp., while the Firmicutes dominated the anode biofilms in the second and third MFCs that were mainly fed with acetate. Cyclic voltammetric results supported the presence of a redox compound(s) associated with the anode biofilm matrix, rather than mobile (dissolved) forms, which could be responsible for the electron transfer to the anode. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the anode biofilms were comprised of morphologically different cells that were firmly attached on the anode surface and interconnected each other with anchor-like filamentous appendages, which might support the results of cyclic voltammetry.

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