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, 356, 225-244

Microbial Fuel Cells: From Fundamentals to Applications. A Review

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Microbial Fuel Cells: From Fundamentals to Applications. A Review

Carlo Santoro et al. J Power Sources.

Abstract

In the past 10-15 years, the microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology has captured the attention of the scientific community for the possibility of transforming organic waste directly into electricity through microbially catalyzed anodic, and microbial/enzymatic/abiotic cathodic electrochemical reactions. In this review, several aspects of the technology are considered. Firstly, a brief history of abiotic to biological fuel cells and subsequently, microbial fuel cells is presented. Secondly, the development of the concept of microbial fuel cell into a wider range of derivative technologies, called bioelectrochemical systems, is described introducing briefly microbial electrolysis cells, microbial desalination cells and microbial electrosynthesis cells. The focus is then shifted to electroactive biofilms and electron transfer mechanisms involved with solid electrodes. Carbonaceous and metallic anode materials are then introduced, followed by an explanation of the electro catalysis of the oxygen reduction reaction and its behavior in neutral media, from recent studies. Cathode catalysts based on carbonaceous, platinum-group metal and platinum-group-metal-free materials are presented, along with membrane materials with a view to future directions. Finally, microbial fuel cell practical implementation, through the utilization of energy output for practical applications, is described.

Keywords: Cathode reaction mechanisms; Electroactive biofilm; Microbial fuel cell; Microbial fuel cell anode; Microbial fuel cell cathode; Microbial fuel cell practical applications.

Figures

Image 1
Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Quantitative analysis of the scientific literature on microbial fuel cells and bioelectrochemical systems (Source: ISI WEB OF SCIENCE, January 2017).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Schematic of a microbial fuel cell (a), microbial electrolysis cell (b), microbial desalination cell (c) and general microbial electrosynthesis cell (d).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Mechanisms involved in electron transfer: (A) Indirect transfer via mediators or fermentation products; (B) direct transfer via cytochrome proteins; (C) direct transfer via conductive pili.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Digital photographs of carbon cloth (a), carbon brush (b), carbon rod (c), carbon mesh (d), carbon veil (e), carbon paper (f), carbon felt (g), granular activated carbon (h), granular graphite (i), carbonized cardboard (j), graphite plate (k), reticulated vitreous carbon (l), stainless steel plate (m), stainless steel mesh (n), stainless steel scrubber (o), silver sheet (p), nickel sheet (q), copper sheet (r), gold sheet (s), titanium plate (t). Effect of the chemistry and morphology on the surface characteristics and bioelectrocatalysis (u) (Fig. 4j adapted from Ref. , published by Frontiers, CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/); Fig. 4p, q, r, s adapted from Ref. , published by The Royal Society of Chemistry, CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/); Fig. 4t adapted from Ref.  with permission of Elsevier; Fig. 4u adapted from Ref.  with permission of Elsevier).
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
(a) H2O2 percentage (top); half-way potential for ORR (middle) and kinetic current ik (bottom) by Fe–4 phenantroline-based catalyst at a pH range of 1–13.7. (b) Schematic of N and Fe−Nx functionalities existing in Fe−N−C catalysts. Drawn of the possible reaction pathways and active sites during ORR: (c) 2x2e transfer on a dual site, (d) 2x2e transfer on a single site, and (e) direct 4e transfer mechanism on a single site. Identification of the active sites and the reaction pathways (f) with pyrrolic as S1 site, pyridinic as S2 site, and Fe-Nx as S or S* or S2 site. (Fig. 5a adapted from Ref.  with permission of Elsevier; Fig. 5b, c, d, e, f reprinted and adapted with permission from K. Artyushkova, A. Serov, S. Rojas-Carbonell, P. Atanassov, J. Phys. Chem. C 119 (2015) 25917−25928. Copyright (2015) American Chemical Society; Ref [339]).
Fig. 6
Fig. 6
Relationship between the current from the RRDE and the air breathing cathode current with the maximum power density achieved by the MFCs using eight Fe-N-C catalyst (a). Maximum power density related with iron and nitrogen functionalities. Relationship with: (b) total nitrogen and nitrogen coordinated with the metal, (c) graphitic nitrogen and (d) pyridinic and pyrrolic nitrogen. (Fig. 6a, b, c, d rearranged and adapted from Ref.  with permission of Elsevier).
Fig. 7
Fig. 7
Digital photographs of Gastrobot, aka chew-chew train (University of S. Florida) (a), EcoBot-I (b), and EcoBot-II (c), each powered by 8 microbial fuel cells and EcoBot-III, powered by 48 small scale MFCs (d). (Fig. 7a Reprinted from S. Wilkinson, Autonomous Robots. 9 (2) (2000) 99–111 with permission of Springer, Fig. 7b, c and d source Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EcoBot)).
Fig. 8
Fig. 8
Images of the benthic microbial fuel cell done by Prof. Tender group (a,b) and by Prof. Beyenal group (c,d). A basic mobile phone charged by a stack of 12 ceramic microbial fuel cells (e), and the Pee Power™ urinal tested on the University of the West of England, Bristol campus (f). (Fig. 8a, b adapted from Ref.  with permission of Elsevier, Fig. 8c, d Photo Credit: Prof. Zbigniew Lewandowski and Prof. Haluk Beyenal, Fig. 8e Adapted from Ref. , published by the PCCP Owner Societies, CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)).

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