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Simultaneous electricity generation and microbially-assisted electrosynthesis in MFCs

Gajda, Iwona; Greenman, John; Melhuish, Chris; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Iwona Serruys
Senior Lecturer in Engineering Management

Chris Melhuish
Professor of Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are bio-electrochemical transducers that generate electricity as a direct result of microbial metabolism, when breaking down organic matter for continuous growth and maintenance. On the other hand, Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs) consume electricity to drive chemical reactions and recover hydrogen or other high value chemicals, at the cathode half-cell [1]. In MFCs, electric current is generated when for every electron donated to the electrode surface, a proton is transferred from the anode to the cathode. Other cations such as Na+ or K+ may be present in significantly higher concentrations and are more likely to be transferred through a cation exchange membrane [2]. This normally results in electro-osmotically dragged water from the anode to the cathode, and often results in a phenomenon known as cathode flooding, which is a problem for MFCs and other chemical fuel cells.
To this day, bio-electrosynthesis has not been reported for energy-generating MFCs, since it is associated with energy-consuming MECs. The main aim of this work was therefore to investigate the effects on MFC performance of low-cost catalyst-free electrode materials, in conjunction with cation and water transport to the cathode half-cell, in the context of beneficial water accumulation and recovery of valuable resources.


Gajda, I., Greenman, J., Melhuish, C., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014, October). Simultaneous electricity generation and microbially-assisted electrosynthesis in MFCs. Paper presented at 226th ECS Meeting,Electrochemical Society, Cancun, Mexico

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 226th ECS Meeting,Electrochemical Society
Conference Location Cancun, Mexico
Start Date Oct 5, 2014
End Date Oct 10, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords simultaneous electricity generation, microbially-assisted electrosynthesis, MFCs
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 226th ECS Meeting,Electrochemical Society