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A New Method for Modulation, Control and Power Boosting in Microbial Fuel Cells

Ieropoulos, Ioannis; You, Jiseon; Gajda, Iwona; Greenman, John


Jiseon You
Research Fellow - Bristol BioEnergy Centre


© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are energy transducers, which through the metabolic reactions of facultative anaerobic microorganisms, transform the energy in organic matter directly into electricity. Extrinsic parameters such as hydraulic retention time, fuel quality (type and concentration) and physicochemical environment of electrodes and biofilms (e.g., temperature, pH, salinity, and redox), can all influence system efficiency. This work proposes that MFCs can be “fine-tuned” by adjustment of any of the physicochemical conditions including redox potential; inthis context, an entirely novel method was investigated as a practical means of tuning, modulating and monitoring the redox potential within the electrode chambers. The method uses additional electrodes – known as 3rd and 4th-pins for anode and cathode chambers, respectively – which can be used in individual units, modules, cascades or stacks, for optimising the production of a large variety of chemicals, as well as biomass, water and power. The results have shown that the power output modulation resulted in an up to 79% and 33% increase, when connected via 3rd and 4th pins, respectively. Apart from power improvement, this study also demonstrated a method of open circuit potential (OCP) sensing, by using the same additional electrodes to both monitor and control the MFC signal in real time.


Ieropoulos, I., You, J., Gajda, I., & Greenman, J. (2018). A New Method for Modulation, Control and Power Boosting in Microbial Fuel Cells. Fuel Cells, 18(5), 663-668.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 13, 2018
Publication Date Oct 1, 2018
Journal Fuel Cells
Print ISSN 1615-6846
Electronic ISSN 1615-6854
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 5
Pages 663-668
Keywords Microbial Fuel Cells, additional electrodes, 3rd and 4th pins, redox bias, signal modulation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ieropoulos, I., You, J., Gajda, I. and Greenman, J. (2018) A new method for modulation, control and power boosting in Microbial Fuel Cells. Fuel Cells. ISSN 1615-6854, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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