A membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for microbial fuel cells (MEA-MFC) was developed for continuous electricity production while treating domestic wastewater concurrently. It was optimized via three upgraded versions (noted α, β and γ) in terms of design (current collectors, hydrophilic separator nature) and operating conditions (hydraulic retention time, external resistance, aeration rate, recirculation). An overall rise of power by over 100% from version α to γ shows the importance of factors such as the choice of proper construction materials and prevention of short-circuits. A power of 2.5 mW was generated with a hydraulic retention time of 2.3 h when a Selemion proton exchange membrane was used as a hydrophilic separator in the MEA and 2.8 mW were attained with a reverse osmosis membrane. The MFC also showed a competitive value of internal resistance (≈40–50 Ω) as compared to the literature, especially considering its large volume (3 L). However, the operation of our system in a complete loop where the anolyte was allowed to trickle over the cathode (version γ) resulted in system failure.
Conception and optimization of a membrane electrode assembly microbial fuel cell (MEA-MFC) for treatment of domestic wastewater
O. Lefebvre, A. Uzabiaga, Y. J. Shen, Z. Tan, Y. P. Cheng, W. Liu, H. Y. Ng; Conception and optimization of a membrane electrode assembly microbial fuel cell (MEA-MFC) for treatment of domestic wastewater. Water Sci Technol 1 October 2011; 64 (7): 1527–1532. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2011.067
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