September 22, 2019  |  

Evaluation of long-term performance of sediment microbial fuel cells and the role of natural resources

Authors: Ewing, Timothy and Ha, Phuc Thi and Beyenal, Haluk

Sediment microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) are expected to be used as a renewable power source for remote environmental monitoring; therefore, evaluation of their long-term power performance is critical for their usability. In this paper, we present novel data needed to understand the long-term performance of SMFCs. We used 3-D Microemulsion (3DMe)™ doped anodes, which slowly release lactate and its fermented products. During our tests, anode-limited SMFCs with and without 3DMe-doped anodes were operated for more than 18 months with a load simulating a sensor operation. We found that doping an anode with an electron donor reduced startup time and increased maximum power (55 ± 2 µW compared to 46 ± 2 µW) in the control systems. We found that the long-term steady power performance is approximately 33% of the maximum power (~18 µW). Finally, our small-sized SMFCs generated higher power densities than those in the literature (28 mW/m2 versus 4 mW/m2). Using electron donor doped anodes can be practical when a short startup time and initial high power are needed. However, if long-term power is critical, the addition of an electron donor does not provide a practical advantage. In addition, in long-term operation enrichment of the anode surface with electrochemically active bacteria does not provide any advantage.

Journal: Applied energy
DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.08.177
Year: 2017

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