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Intermittent load implementation in microbial fuel cells improves power performance

Greenman, J.; Walter, X. A.; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


J. Greenman


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. This study reports on the response of small-scale MFCs to intermittent loading, in terms of power output over time. The aim was to understand the evolution with time of power output under different duty cycles, in conditions close to practical implementation. Inexpensive ceramic membranes were compared to cation exchange membranes, under continuous flow and with a pre-digester connected. Results show that at the minute-scale, all the duty cycles investigated, produced 78% higher power bursts from the MFCs (500. μW) than when under continuous loading (280. μW). These results were recorded from MFCs employing ceramic membranes, whereas the difference in performance for MFCs employing commercially available cation-exchange-membranes was insignificant. When normalising to daily energy production, only specific duty cycles produced more power than continuous loading. Furthermore, the introduction of a pre-digester increased the MFC power outputs 10-fold, thus confirming that separating fermentation from electro-active respiration, significantly enhances the system performance.


Ieropoulos, I. A., Greenman, J., Walter, X. A., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014). Intermittent load implementation in microbial fuel cells improves power performance. Bioresource Technology, 172, 365-372.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 16, 2014
Journal Bioresource Technology
Print ISSN 0960-8524
Electronic ISSN 1873-2976
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 172
Pages 365-372
Keywords ceramics, cation exchange membrane, pre-digester, continuous flow, intermittent loading, duty cycle
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