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Microbial fuel cells meet with external resistance

Lookup NU author(s): Krishna Katuri, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott, Professor Ian Head, Dr Cristian Picioreanu, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD


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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). © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Katuri K, Scott K, Head I, Picioreanu C, Curtis T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bioresource Technology

Year: 2011

Volume: 102

Issue: 3

Pages: 2758-2766

Print publication date: 20/11/2010

ISSN (print): 0960-8524

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2976

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2010.10.147


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Funder referenceFunder name
MTKD-CT-2004-517215European Union