Current generation in a microbial fuel cell can be limited by the amount of anode surface area available for biofilm formation, and slow substrate degradation kinetics. Increasing the anode surface area can increase the amount of biofilm, but performance will improve only if the anode material is located near the cathode to minimize solution internal resistance. Here we demonstrate that biofilms do not have to be in constant contact with the anode to produce current in an MFC. Granular activated carbon particles enriched with exoelectrogenic biofilm are fluidized (by stirring) in the anode chamber of the MFC, resulting in only intermittent contact between the particles and the anode current collector. The maximum power density generated is 951 ± 10 mW m-2, compared to 813 ± 2 mW m-2 for the control without stirring (packed bed), and 525 ± 1 mW m-2 in the absence of GAC particles and without stirring. GAC-biofilm particles demonstrate capacitor-like behavior, but achieve nearly constant discharge conditions due to the large number of particles that contact the current collector. These results provide proof of concept for the development of flowable electrode reactors, where anode biofilms can be electrically charged in a separate storage tank and then rapidly discharged in compact anode chambers.
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