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Issue 33, 2012
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Development and evaluation of carbon and binder loading in low-cost activated carbon cathodes for air-cathode microbial fuel cells

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Abstract

Activated carbon (AC) air cathodes were constructed using variable amounts of carbon (43–171 mg cm−2) and an inexpensive binder (10 wt% polytetrafluoroethylene, PTFE), and with or without a porous cloth wipe-based diffusion layer (DL) that was sealed with PDMS. The cathodes with the highest AC loading of 171 mg cm−2, and no diffusion layer, produced 1255 ± 75 mW m−2 and did not appreciably vary in performance after 1.5 months of operation. Slightly higher power densities were initially obtained using 100 mg cm−2 of AC (1310 ± 70 mW m−2) and a PDMS/wipe diffusion layer, although the performance of this cathode decreased to 1050 ± 70 mW m−2 after 1.5 months, and 1010 ± 190 mW m−2 after 5 months. AC loadings of 43 mg cm−2 and 100 mg cm−2 did not appreciably affect performance (with diffusion layers). MFCs with the Pt catalyst and Nafion binder initially produced 1295 ± 13 mW m−2, but the performance decreased to 930 ± 50 mW m−2 after 1.5 months, and then to 890 ± 20 mW m−2 after 5 months. Cathode performance was optimized for all cathodes by using the least amount of PTFE binder (10%, in tests using up to 40%). These results provide a method to construct cathodes for MFCs that use only inexpensive AC and a PTFE, while producing power densities similar to those of Pt/C cathodes. The methods used here to make these cathodes will enable further tests on carbon materials in order to optimize and extend the lifetime of AC cathodes in MFCs.

Graphical abstract: Development and evaluation of carbon and binder loading in low-cost activated carbon cathodes for air-cathode microbial fuel cells

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
25 Jul 2012
Accepted
03 Oct 2012
First published
04 Oct 2012

RSC Adv., 2012,2, 12751-12758
Article type
Paper

Development and evaluation of carbon and binder loading in low-cost activated carbon cathodes for air-cathode microbial fuel cells

B. Wei, J. C. Tokash, G. Chen, M. A. Hickner and B. E. Logan, RSC Adv., 2012, 2, 12751
DOI: 10.1039/C2RA21572A

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