Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) produce bioelectricity from a wide variety of organic and inorganic substrates. Chitin can be used as a slowly degrading substrate in MFCs and thus as a long-term fuel to sustain power by these devices in remote locations. However, little is known about the effects of particle size on power density and length of the power cycle (longevity). We therefore examined power generation from chitin particles sieved to produce three average particle sizes (0.28, 0.46 and 0.78 mm). The longevity increased from 9 to 33 days with an increase in the particle diameter from 0.28 to 0.78 mm. Coulombic efficiency also increased with particle size from 18% to 56%. The maximum power density was lower for the largest (0.78 mm) particles (176 mW m-2), with higher power densities for the 0.28 mm (272 mW m-2) and 0.46 mm (252 mW m-2) particle sizes. The measured lifetimes of these particles scaled with particle diameter to the 1.3 power. Application of a fractal dissolution model indicates chitin particles had a three-dimensional fractal dimension between 2 and 2.3. These results demonstrate particles can be used as a sustainable fuel in MFCs, but that particle sizes will need to be controlled to achieve desired power levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering