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Surface modification of microbial fuel cells anodes: Approaches to practical design

Schuler, Andrew J.; Atanassov, Plamen; Artyushkova, Kateryna; Babanova, Sofia; Grattieri, Matteo; Li, Baikun; Wang, Xiujun; Zhou, Xiuxiu; Zhou, Jun; Li, Baitao; Santoro, Carlo


Andrew J. Schuler

Plamen Atanassov

Kateryna Artyushkova

Sofia Babanova

Matteo Grattieri

Baikun Li

Xiujun Wang

Xiuxiu Zhou

Jun Zhou

Baitao Li

Carlo Santoro


Anode modification was explored as an approach to enhance the startup and improve the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) inoculated with mixed cultures for wastewater treatment. Carbon cloth (CC) anodes were modified by electrochemical oxidation in three electrolytes: nitric acid + sulfuric acid (CC-NS), ammonium nitrate (CC-AN), and ammonium sulfate (CC-AS). The acidic modification of the anode material increased in the ratio of saturated/unsaturated carbon on the surface and consequently, a decrease in electrode resistance was observed. A linear dependence between the MFCs operational characteristics and the anodes resistance (R2 ≥ 0.9) indicated the dominating role of this parameter.This modification also enhanced the bacterial attachment (wet and dry biomass) and biofilm formation.CC-NS, CC-AS and CC-AN anodes accelerated the start up period of the MFCs and demonstrated highercurrent and power compared to the unmodified CC. The differences in MFCs electrochemical behaviortended to decrease with time. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was used to identify the parametershaving major influence on the system performance, and the results underlined the positive effect of thesurface modification on the MFCs output due to increases in the amounts of unsaturated and oxidizedcarbon, Electrochemical Accessible Surface Area (ECSA) and bacterial attachment. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Schuler, A. J., Atanassov, P., Artyushkova, K., Babanova, S., Grattieri, M., Li, B., …Santoro, C. (2014). Surface modification of microbial fuel cells anodes: Approaches to practical design. Electrochimica Acta, 134, 116-126.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 23, 2014
Publication Date Jul 10, 2014
Deposit Date May 1, 2018
Journal Electrochimica Acta
Print ISSN 0013-4686
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 134
Pages 116-126
Keywords microbial fuel cells, electrochemical oxidation, bacterial attachment, anode polarization, start up
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