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3D printed components of microbial fuel cells: Towards monolithic microbial fuel cell fabrication using additive layer manufacturing

Preen, Richard J.; You, Jiseon; Preen, Richard; Bull, Larry; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Richard J. Preen

Jiseon You
Lecturer in Engineering/ Project Management

Lawrence Bull
AHOD Research and Scholarship and Prof


© 2016 The Authors For practical applications of the MFC technology, the design as well as the processes of manufacturing and assembly, should be optimised for the specific target use. Another burgeoning technology, additive manufacturing (3D printing), can contribute significantly to this approach by offering a high degree of design freedom. In this study, we investigated the use of commercially available 3D printable polymer materials as the MFC membrane and anode. The best performing membrane material, Gel-Lay, produced a maximum power of 240 ± 11 μW, which was 1.4-fold higher than the control CEM with PMAX of 177 ± 29 μW. Peak power values of Gel-Lay (133.8–184.6 μW) during fed-batch cycles were also higher than the control (133.4–160.5 μW). In terms of material cost, the tested membranes were slightly higher than the control CEM, primarily due to the small purchased quantity. Finally, the first 3D printable polymer anode, a conductive PLA material, showed significant potential as a low-cost and easy to fabricate MFC anode, producing a stable level of power output, despite poor conductivity and relatively small surface area per unit volume. These results demonstrate the practicality of monolithic MFC fabrication with individually optimised components at relatively low cost.


Preen, R. J., You, J., Preen, R., Bull, L., Greenman, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2017). 3D printed components of microbial fuel cells: Towards monolithic microbial fuel cell fabrication using additive layer manufacturing. Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 19, 94-101.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 29, 2016
Publication Date Feb 1, 2017
Journal Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments
Print ISSN 2213-1388
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Pages 94-101
Keywords microbial fuel cell (MFC), 3D printing, additive manufacturing (AM), polymer membrane, PLA based polymer anode
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : The dataset for this study is available from the UWE Research Data Repository:


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