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Anion exchange polymer coated graphite granule electrodes for improving the performance of anodes in unbuffered microbial fuel cells

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Eileen Yu, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott, Dr Enren Zhang



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


In this paper, graphite granule composite electrodes are prepared for microbial fuel cells (MFCs) by coating commercial graphite granules with the mixture of quaternary DABCO polysulfone or Nafion ion exchange polymer and carbon black. The results of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) suggest that the addition of carbon black could significantly improve the electrical conductivity of graphite granule anodes. When phosphate buffer solution (PBS) is replaced by NaCl solution, the current densities of the pristine anode, 0.08g Nafion coated anode and 0.16g QDPSU coated anode decrease by 52.6 %, 20.6 % and 10.3 % at -0.2 V (vs. Ag/AgCl), respectively. The solution resistance of ion exchange polymer coated anodes is more stable in comparison with that of pristine anode. After 40 operational days, the performance drop of 0.16 g QDPSU coated anode when switching the solution from PBS to NaCl is still smaller than that of pristine anode. However, 0.08g Nafion coated anode shows the similar performance in NaCl solution to the pristine anode after long term operation. This study reveals that QDPSU anion exchange polymer is more suitable for the anode modification. The QDPSU coated anode promises a great potential for three-dimensional anode based MFCs to treat domestic wastewater.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xu W, Lia D, Maoa X, Yu E, Scott K, Zhang E, Wang D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Power Sources

Year: 2016

Volume: 330

Pages: 211-218

Print publication date: 31/10/2016

Online publication date: 10/09/2016

Acceptance date: 05/09/2016

Date deposited: 23/09/2016

ISSN (print): 0378-7753

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2755

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2016.09.019


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Funder referenceFunder name
21173184National Natural Science Foundation of China
21406171National Natural Science Foundation of China
2042014kf0046Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities
ZRY2014001946Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province