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High performing gas diffusion biocathode for microbial fuel cells using acidophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria

Lookup NU author(s): Paniz Izadi, Dr Jean-Marie Fontmorin, Professor Ian Head, Professor Eileen Yu



The development of a sustainable catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is still a major bottleneck for the scale-up and commercialization of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). In this work, we have studied the utilization of iron-oxidizing bacteria (IOB) enriched from natural environment and Fe2+ in MFCs equipped with gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) as an alternative to traditional Pt-based catalysts. In half-cells systems, the oxidation of Fe2+ into Fe3+ by IOB and its regeneration at the cathode produced constant current densities close to 2 A m−2 for more than 45 days. In MFCs operated in batch mode, significant pH changes in both compartment led to the instability of the system. However, when operated in continuous mode, pH remained stable in both compartments and MFCs produced maximum power densities of 1.1 W m−2 were then reached, compared to 0.5 W m−2 for MFCs equipped with Pt catalyst. Diffusion of oxygen through the GDEs improved mass transport and the performance of the MFCs, and avoided the utilization of costly aeration system. This IOB GDE system also provides a reproducible and fast start-up for biocathode for MFCs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Izadi P, Fontmorin J-M, Fernández LFL, Cheng S, Head I, Yu EH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Energy Research

Year: 2019

Volume: 7

Online publication date: 10/09/2019

Acceptance date: 11/08/2019

Date deposited: 12/09/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2296-598X

Publisher: Frontiers


DOI: 10.3389/fenrg.2019.00093


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