Scalability and stacking of self-stratifying microbial fuel cells treating urineLatest updated: April 16, 2021
Citation: (Biologic SP-50) XA Walter, C Santoro, J Greenman, IA Ieropoulos – Bioelectrochemistry, 2020 – Elsevier
The scalability of Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) is key to the development of stacks. A recent study has shown that self-stratifying membraneless MFCs (S-MFCs) could be scaled down to 2 cm without performance deterioration. However, the scaling-up limit of S-MFC is yet unknown. Here the study evaluates the scale-up height of S-MFCs treating urine, from 2 cm, 4 cm to 12 cm high electrodes. The electrochemical properties of the S-MFCs were investigated after steady-states were established, following a 70-days longevity study. The electrochemical properties of the 2 cm and 4 cm conditions were similar (5.45 ± 0.32 mW per cascade). Conversely, the 12 cm conditions had much lower power output (1.48 ± 0.15 mW). The biofilm on the 12 cm cathodes only developed on the upper 5–6 cm of the immersed part of the electrode suggesting that the cathodic reactions were the limiting factor. This hypothesis was confirmed by the cathode polarisations showing that the 12 cm S-MFC had low current density (1.64 ± 9.53 µA cm−2, at 0 mV) compared to the other two conditions taht had similar current densities (192.73 ± 20.35 µA cm−2, at 0 mV). These results indicate that S-MFC treating urine can only be scaled-up to an electrode height of around 5–6 cm before the performance is negatively affected.