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Factors affecting current production in microbial fuel cells using different industrial wastewaters

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sharon Velasquez OrtaORCiD, Professor Ian Head, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Karen Scott


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This study evaluated how different types of industrial wastewaters (bakery, brewery, paper and dairy) affect the performance of identical microbial fuel cells (MFCs); and the microbial composition and electrochemistry of MFC anodes. MFCs fed with paper wastewater produced the highest current density (125±2mA/m(2)) at least five times higher than dairy (25±1mA/m(2)), brewery and bakery wastewaters (10±1mA/m(2)). Such high current production was independent of substrate degradability. A comprehensive study was conducted to determine the factor driving current production when using the paper effluent. The microbial composition of anodic biofilms differed according to the type of wastewater used, and only MFC anodes fed with paper wastewater showed redox activity at -134±5mV vs NHE. Electrochemical analysis of this redox activity indicated that anodic bacteria produced a putative electron shuttling compound that increased the electron transfer rate through diffusion, and as a result the overall MFC performance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Velasquez Orta SB, Head IM, Curtis TP, Scott K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bioresource Technology

Year: 2011

Volume: 102

Issue: 8

Pages: 5105-5112

Print publication date: 01/02/2011

ISSN (print): 0960-8524

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2976

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2011.01.059


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Funder referenceFunder name
196298Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT, Mexico)