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Evaluation of porous carbon felt as an aerobic biocathode support in terms of hydrogen peroxide

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ed Milner, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott, Professor Ian Head, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Professor Eileen Yu



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Authors. Aerobic biocathodes provide a low-cost and sustainable substitute for expensive precious metal catalysts at the cathode of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). However, the abiotic formation of peroxide, which is catalyzed by the porous carbon support at certain cathode potentials, may be detrimental to their activity. Two different carbon felt supports, one treated with nitric acid, the other untreated, were characterized electrochemically through a series of chronoamperometry (CA) experiments using a novel 4-electrode electrochemical setup, in order to determine the potential at which peroxide is initially formed. Peroxide was detected at a potential of -0.2 V (all potentials are against Ag/AgCl) for the untreated carbon felt electrode and at a potential of -0.05 V for the nitric acid treated carbon felt. Given these results, two half-cells poised at -0.2 and -0.1 V were setup in order to study biocathode formation. The half-cell poised at -0.2 V did not develop an aerobic biocathode, whereas the half-cell poised at -0.1 V developed an aerobic biocathode. This study shows that to develop aerobic biocathodes on carbon felt, cathode electrode potentials more positive than -0.2 V must be applied.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Milner EM, Scott K, Head IM, Curtis T, Yu EH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Power Sources

Year: 2017

Volume: 356

Pages: 459-466

Print publication date: 15/07/2017

Online publication date: 24/03/2017

Acceptance date: 18/03/2017

Date deposited: 10/05/2017

ISSN (print): 0378-7753

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.03.079


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