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Issue 2, 2012
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Biofilm conductivity is a decisive variable for high-current-density Geobacter sulfurreducens microbial fuel cells

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Abstract

Current outputs of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are too low for most perceived practical applications. Most efforts for further optimization have focused on modifications of fuel cell architecture or electrode materials, with little investigation into the properties of microorganisms that are most essential for maximal current production. Geobacter sulfurreducens produces the highest current densities of any known pure culture; is closely related to the Geobacter species that often predominate in anode biofilms harvesting electricity from organic wastes; and produces highly conductive anode biofilms. Comparison of biofilm conductivities and current production in different strains of G. sulfurreducens revealed a direct correlation between biofilm conductivity and current density. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements demonstrated that higher biofilm conductivity not only reduced resistance to electron flow through the biofilm, but also lowered the activation energy barrier for electron transfer between the biofilm and the anode. These results demonstrate the crucial role of biofilm conductivity in achieving high current density in MFCs and suggest that increasing biofilm conductivity can boost MFC performance.

Graphical abstract: Biofilm conductivity is a decisive variable for high-current-density Geobacter sulfurreducens microbial fuel cells

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Article information


Submitted
06 Dec 2011
Accepted
20 Dec 2011
First published
16 Jan 2012

Energy Environ. Sci., 2012,5, 5790-5797
Article type
Paper

Biofilm conductivity is a decisive variable for high-current-density Geobacter sulfurreducens microbial fuel cells

N. S. Malvankar, M. T. Tuominen and D. R. Lovley, Energy Environ. Sci., 2012, 5, 5790 DOI: 10.1039/C2EE03388G

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