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Issue 36, 2013
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Scale up considerations for sediment microbial fuel cells

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Scale-up of sediment microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) is important to generating practical levels of power for undersea devices. Sustained operation of many sensors and communications systems require power in the range of 0.6 mW to 20 W. Small scale SMFC systems evaluated primarily in the laboratory indicate power densities for typical graphite plate anodes on the order of 10–50 mW m−2. However, previous work also suggests that SMFC power production may not scale directly with size. Here, we describe a combination of lab and field studies to evaluate scale up for carbon fabric anodes with a projected surface area ranging from 25 cm2 to 12 m2. The results indicate that power generation scales almost linearly with anode size up to about 1–2 m2 of projected surface area. Our model suggests that anodes larger than this can experience significant reduction in power density, confirming laboratory observations. These results suggest that the majority of losses along the anode surface occur closest to the electronics, where the amount of current passing along an anode is the greatest. A multi-anode approach is discussed for SMFCs, suggesting that scale-up can be achieved using segmented anode arrays.

Graphical abstract: Scale up considerations for sediment microbial fuel cells

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Supplementary files

Article information

23 Apr 2013
28 Jun 2013
First published
28 Jun 2013

RSC Adv., 2013,3, 15947-15954
Article type

Scale up considerations for sediment microbial fuel cells

L. Hsu, B. Chadwick, J. Kagan, R. Thacher, A. Wotawa-Bergen and K. Richter, RSC Adv., 2013, 3, 15947
DOI: 10.1039/C3RA43180K

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