An electricity-generating bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA, was inoculated into a single-chamber, air-cathode microbial fuel cell (MFC) in order to determine the maximum electron transfer rate from bacteria to the anode. To create anodic reaction-limiting conditions, where electron transfer from bacteria to the anode is the rate-limiting step, anodes with electrogenic biofilms were reduced in size and tests were conducted using anodes of six different sizes. The smallest anode (7 cm2, or 1.5 times larger than the cathode) achieved an anodic reaction-limiting condition as a result of a limited mass of bacteria on the electrode. Under these conditions, the limiting current density reached a maximum of 1,530 mA/m2, and power density reached a maximum of 461 mW/m2. Per-biomass efficiency of the electron transfer rate was constant at 32 fmol cell-1 day -1 (178 μmol g of protein-1 min-1), a rate comparable to that with solid iron as the electron acceptor but lower than rates achieved with fumarate or soluble iron. In comparison, an enriched electricity-generating consortium reached 374 μmol g of protein-1 min-1 under the same conditions, suggesting that the consortium had a much greater capacity for electrode reduction. These results demonstrate that per-biomass electrode reduction rates (calculated by current density and biomass density on the anode) can be used to help make better comparisons of electrogenic activity in MFCs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology