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Improved power and long term performance of microbial fuel cell with Fe-N-C catalyst in air-breathing cathode

Gajda, Iwona; Greenman, John; Santoro, Carlo; Serov, Alexey; Melhuish, Chris; Atanassov, Plamen; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Iwona Serruys
Senior Lecturer in Engineering Management

Carlo Santoro

Alexey Serov

Chris Melhuish
Professor of Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Plamen Atanassov


© 2017 Power output limitation is one of the main challenges that needs to be addressed for full-scale applications of the Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) technology. Previous studies have examined electrochemical performance of different cathode electrodes including the development of novel iron based electrocatalysts, however the long-term investigation into continuously operating systems is rare. This work aims to study the application of platinum group metals-free (PGM-free) catalysts integrated into an air-breathing cathode of the microbial fuel cell operating on activated sewage sludge and supplemented with acetate as the carbon energy source. The maximum power density up to 1.3 Wm−2 (54 Wm−3) obtained with iron aminoantipyrine (Fe-AAPyr) catalyst is the highest reported in this type of MFC and shows stability and improvement in long term operation when continuously operated on wastewater. It also investigates the ability of this catalyst to facilitate water extraction from the anode and electroosmotic production of clean catholyte. The electrochemical kinetic extraction of catholyte in the cathode chamber shows correlation with power performance and produces a newly synthesised solution with a high pH > 13, suggesting caustic content. This shows an active electrolytic treatment of wastewater by active ionic and pH splitting in an electricity producing MFC.


Gajda, I., Greenman, J., Santoro, C., Serov, A., Melhuish, C., Atanassov, P., & Ieropoulos, I. (2018). Improved power and long term performance of microbial fuel cell with Fe-N-C catalyst in air-breathing cathode. Energy, 144, 1073-1079.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 24, 2017
Publication Date Feb 1, 2018
Publicly Available Date Dec 4, 2017
Journal Energy
Print ISSN 0360-5442
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 144
Pages 1073-1079
Keywords microbial fuel cell, cathode catalyst, catholyte extraction, caustic catholyte, electro-osmosis
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