Cellulose has been used in two-chamber microbial fuel cells (MFCs), but power densities were low. Higher power densities can be achieved in air-cathode MFCs using an inoculum from a two-chamber, aqueous-cathode microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). Air-cathode MFCs with this inoculum produced maximum power densities of 1070mWm-2 (cathode surface area) in single-chamber and 880mWm-2 in two-chamber MFCs. Coulombic efficiencies ranged from 25% to 50%, and COD removals were 50-70% based on total cellulose removals of 60-80%. Decreasing the reactor volume from 26 to 14mL (while maintaining constant electrode spacing) decreased power output by 66% (from 526 to 180mWm-2) due to a reduction in total mass of cellulose added. These results demonstrate that air-cathode MFCs can produce high power densities with cellulose following proper acclimation of the inoculum, and that organic loading rates are important for maximizing power densities from particulate substrates.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Waste Management and Disposal