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A comprehensive study of custom-made ceramic separators for microbial fuel cells: Towards "living" bricks

You, Jiseon; Wallis, Lauren; Radisavljevic, Nevena; Pasternak, Grzegorz; Sglavo, Vincenzo M.; Hanczyc, Martin M.; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Jiseon You
Research Fellow - Bristol BioEnergy Centre

Lauren Wallis

Nevena Radisavljevic

Grzegorz Pasternak

Vincenzo M. Sglavo

Martin M. Hanczyc


Towards the commercialisation of microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology, well-performing, cost-effective, and sustainable separators are being developed. Ceramic is one of the promising materials for this purpose. In this study, ceramic separators made of three different clay types were tested to investigate the effect of ceramic material properties on their performance. The best-performing ceramic separators were white ceramic-based spotty membranes, which produced maximum power outputs of 717.7 ± 29.9 µW (white ceramic-based with brown spots, 71.8 W·m−3) and 715.3 ± 73.0 µW (white ceramic-based with red spots, 71.5 W·m−3). For single material ceramic types, red ceramic separator generated the highest power output of 670.5 ± 64. 8 µW (67.1 W·m−3). Porosity investigation revealed that white and red ceramics are more porous and have smaller pores compared to brown ceramic. Brown ceramic separators under performed initially but seem more favourable for long-term operation due to bigger pores and thus less tendency of membrane fouling. This study presents ways to enhance the function of ceramic separators in MFCs such as the novel spotty design as well as fine-tuning of porosity and pore size.


You, J., Wallis, L., Radisavljevic, N., Pasternak, G., Sglavo, V. M., Hanczyc, M. M., …Ieropoulos, I. (2019). A comprehensive study of custom-made ceramic separators for microbial fuel cells: Towards "living" bricks. Energies, 12(21),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 21, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 25, 2019
Publication Date Oct 25, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 3, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 5, 2020
Journal Energies
Electronic ISSN 1996-1073
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 21
Article Number 4071
Keywords microbial fuel cell; low-cost ceramics; separator; membrane; porosity; pore size; water absorption; mercury intrusion
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A Comprehensive Study of Custom-Made Ceramic Separators for Microbial Fuel Cells: Towards “Living” Bricks (2.9 Mb)


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Copyright Statement
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (

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