Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34

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Biosensors and Bioelectronics
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/bios

New architecture for modulization of membraneless
and single-chambered microbial fuel cell using
a bipolar plate-electrode assembly (BEA)
Junyeong An a,b, Bongkyu Kim a, Jae Kyung Jang c, Hyung-Sool Lee b, In Seop Chang a,n
a
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro, Buk-gu,
Gwangju 500-712, Republic of Korea
b
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
c
Energy and Environment Engineering Division, National Institute of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Suwon 441-707,
Republic of Korea

art ic l e i nf o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 15 November 2013
Received in revised form
21 February 2014
Accepted 25 February 2014
Available online 16 March 2014

A new architecture for a membraneless and single-chambered microbial fuel cell (MFC) which has a
unique bipolar plate-electrode assembly (BEA) design was demonstrated. The maximum power of MFC
units connected in series (denoted as a stacked MFC) was up to 22.8 7 0.13 mW/m2 for 0.946 7 0.003 V
working voltage, which is 2.5 times higher than the averaged maximum power density of the nonstacked MFC units. The power density in the stacked MFC using BEA was comparable to the stacked MFC
using electric wire. These results demonstrate that BEAs having air-exposed cathodes can potentially be
used in the stacking of membraneless single-chambered MFCs. In addition, we confirmed that the
current in the stacked mode flowed faster than the non-stacked mode due to voltage increase by series
connection, and the poorest of the stacked units quickly faced current depletion at higher external
resistance than the non-stacked mode, leading to voltage reversal. These results imply that stacked MFC
units require a relatively large current capacity in order to prevent high voltage reversal at high current
region. To increase total current capacity and prevent voltage reversal of stacked MFC units, we
suggested series/parallel-integrated MFC module system for scaling-up. This new concept could likely
allow the application of MFC technology to be extended to various wastewater treatment processes or
plants.
& 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Microbial fuel cell
Microbial electrochemical cell
MFC stack
Series connection
Stacked MFC

1. Introduction
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are promising technologies for
producing electricity from waste organic matter (Kim et al., 1999;
Chang et al., 2006). For this reason, researchers have been striving
to use these devises for energy-recovering wastewater treatment.
The maximum theoretical voltage from a single individual MFC is
!1.1 V at pH 7 at open circuit mode, when acetate is used as the
electron donor and O2 as the electron acceptor (Logan et al., 2006).
However, an achievable working voltage in a single MFC ranges
from ! 0.2 to ! 0.5 V that is not sufficient for operating electronics
(Kim et al., 2011, 2012), which typically require an input voltage of
over 1.5–5 V. To satisfy such voltages, MFCs could be connected in
series for voltage-up; indeed, many researchers have been trying to
increase voltage by connecting MFCs in series. Aelterman et al.
(2006) demonstrated the possibility of boosting the voltage up to

n

Corresponding author. Tel.: þ 82 2 715 3278; fax: þ 82 2 715 2434.
E-mail address: ischang@gist.ac.kr (I.S. Chang).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2014.02.063
0956-5663/& 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2 V through a serial connection of six MFCs. Oh and Logan (2007)
reported a power increase and several electrochemical phenomena
occurring in a series connection, further promoting the practical
use of electrical energy harvested from MFCs. Dekker et al. (2009)
produced a working voltage of 3.1 V by connecting 4 MFCs in series
at an external resistor of 1 kΩ. In addition, Ieropoulos et al. (2013)
showed a successful use of serially-connected MFCs for powering
mobile phone. They obtained an open circuit voltage of ! 7.2 V for
a maximum working voltage of ! 2.15 V (current: 3 mA) in 24
MFCs. Despite that these previous studies showed that MFCs could
produce a voltage for applications by series connection, scale-up of
MFCs in series is being hindered by chambered architecture and
components. Most MFCs require either a closed chamber or two
chambers separated by an ion exchange membrane in order to
prevent organics or oxidants crossing over to a counter chamber.
However, chambered configurations having a membrane show
limitations for scaling-up MFCs; for instance, the membrane
requires regular cleaning when biofouling or contamination on
membrane surface occurs (Xu et al., 2012). In addition, closed twochambered MFCs should be designed to ensure that the membrane

e.004 V between the OCV and 15 kΩ. The maximum power density obtained from the stacked MFC was 22.. diameter 5 cm) on the bottom of the MFC to inhibit water leakage and air influx to the anode. interfaced plate (rigid graphite plate) for bipolar function. which allows for the vertical modularization of membraneless air-cathode MECs in series without disturbing anode respiring bacteria (ARB) (Lee et al.5 times higher than the averaged maximum power density of the individual MFC units (Fig. R is the external load applied to the units. and 0.5 cm) was immersed in medium. The use of one large electrode can cause MFCs to lose cell voltage (i. In brief.. 40 kΩ. lower MFC unit (Fig. Utrecht. for comparison. 2009). An individual MFC unit was composed of a cylindrical acrylic body (5 cm inner diameter.. Cleveland. and fed an acetate (10 mM) medium (An et al. Microbial fuel cell construction with a bipolar-plate electrode assembly Fig. 2011) into the system at a flow rate of 0. Each unit was operated under closed circuit mode at a 10 Ω external load until the voltage became stable (in ! 4 days) in order to establish a viable microbial community in the anode compartment. As the external resistance was lowered. which were combined with an impedance analyzer module (PGSTAT 30 with FRA-ADC. which was . 1(a) and (b) presents the unique architectures used in this study. we then interpret the overvoltages occurring in the developed economic. and air-exposed cathode (graphite felt) on the top of the MFCs to compactify the architecture and the structure for a serial connection.54 cm thickness). and carried out discharging tests for the stacked MFC..003 V working voltage. A is the surface area (m2) of the anode electrode. We averaged 30 points with standard deviation.g. Results and discussion 3. where j is the current density (mA/m2). Korea).9467 0. the internal resistances were estimated from the Nyquist plots obtained via electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) spectra using AutoLab (Eco Chemie. 2.774 70.g. we can see that the BEA structure is applicable to membraneless MFCs for connection in series. In this study. Microbial fuel cell inoculation and operation We inoculated each MFC unit with 157 ml of anaerobic digestion sludge.2. 2. 1(c) and (d) illustrates dimensions of the MFC unit and its components.e. we then fully recharged the nonstacked units. along with passive air provision to the cathode. Keithley Co. The OCVs of the non-stacked units were 0. we changed MFC operation to open circuit mode and conducted discharging tests for each individual MFC unit (denoted as nonstacked units 1. stacked MFC configuration.54 cm thickness).2 cm. which is 2. We then extracted voltage–current density (V–j) curves.. upper MFC unit (Fig. Performance of stacked MFCs with BEA Fig.53 V. both the entire configuration and unit cells should be scalable. The Netherlands).04 cm) was exposed to air. The discharging time for each load was 15 min. 2(A) and (B))... and I is the current (mA) in the units. East Bunker Court Vernon 29 Hills. 2008. During the tests the voltage in the non-stacked units was stabilized in 10 min at each external load. Fig.0727 0. P is the power density (mW/m2) in the units. modulable. For MFCs to be applied in the energy-recovering wastewater treatment process. Next.13 mW/m2 for 0. EIS data were fitted to an equivalent Randle circuit model to estimate the charge transfer resistance (Rct) and solution resistance (Rs) for the anode and the cathode of the individual units. 1(c)) is stacked on the cathode in another MFC unit (e. 20 kΩ.8 ml/min (hydraulic retention time (HRT): 36. we employed a bipolar-plate electrode assembly to demonstrate a pragmatic approach for scaling-up in order to connect MFCs in series.. respectively.53 V. 2. 100 kΩ. 3. When stabilized the voltage was collected at 30 points for 5 min to compute the current density and the power density using j¼V/(RA) and P¼ IV/A. 1(a)). A basic description of the stacked MFC configuration is as follows: the anode at the top of the waterproof graphite plate in the MFC unit (e. USA). 2.g. 2 shows V–j and P–j curves obtained from the non-stacked units and the stacked MFC. and power density–current density (P–j) curves were obtained from the discharging experiments. USA).58 V. 2. 30 kΩ. the OCV of the stacked MFC triple at 1.8 70. 0. Electrochemical analyses After confirming the steady voltage output in the MFC. the voltage of the stacked MFC linearly decreased between the OCV and 15 kΩ condition. To assess the BEA performance in the stacked MFC.3. obtained from a brewery wastewater treatment plant (Gwangju. and a rigid waterproof graphite plate (thickness 0. and the voltages were monitored every 10 s using a multimeter (Keithley 2700. Another concern for fabricating large-scale MFCs and their operation could be the availability of system optimization to minimize the internal resistance of the entire system. A part of the cathode (2. and (b) an open compartment with no membrane in order to resolve membrane maintenance issues and a closed single. stacked mode) were subsequently analyzed to assess factors affecting overvoltages in the stacked MFC. non-stacked mode) and the stacked MFC (i. which is connected in series in a BEA structure (Fig.1. 2. Utrecht.J. a cathode (5 cm diameter.27 h) using a peristaltic pump (Cole-Parmer Instrument Co. even single-chambered MFCs using aircathodes or membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) are not free from these challenges. The internal resistances of the non-stacked units (i. voltage drop) because of the internal resistance and mixed potential formation (Dewan et al. 2011). 9 cm height). An et al. 10 kΩ. Then. due to the presence of a rigid waterproof graphite plate between the anode and cathode. / Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34 is not physically damaged by the high hydraulic pressure occurring in large-scale systems. 2010) metabolism. Materials and methods 2. 15 kΩ. 5 kΩ. the MFC system employs: (a) a bipolar-plate electrode assembly (BEA) consisting of an anode (graphite felt) on the bottom of individual MFCs. 1(d)). and the series-connected units (denoted as a stacked MFC). 1(e)). converted the units to the stacked MFC mode. and 3).. From these results.01 Hz under alternating voltage conditions at the cathode in open circuit potential. along with having a low operating cost and be easily serviceable. IL. EIS spectra were measured over a frequency range of 100 kHz–0. an anode (5 cm diameter.. discharging tests were conducted by connecting non-stacked units in series using electrical wires..51 V. The structure of the BEA component is a key component in this study. In the same manner. while the other part of the cathode (0.1. By directly connecting three MFC units with no external wires.e. and stackable in series. The magnitude of the voltage drop in the stacked MFC was 0. and 1 kΩ) in order. We varied the external loads toward lower external resistance from 100 kΩ to 1 kΩ (e.or two-chambered configuration. Harnisch et al. at a 710 mV amplitude in a two electrode configuration (An et al. The Netherlands). Eco Chemie.3573. OH.. V is the voltage (V) in individual units.. we built a stacked MFC (Fig.

the RE of the BEAs was analyzed using Nyquist plots. 2(A)). As a result..3 Ω between units 1 and 2 and 1. the anode Rct in the stacked MFC was much smaller than Rs and the cathode Rct.9%. Based on these findings. In addition. we found that the power density of the stacked MFC using BEA was comparable to the stacked MFC using these wires.3 þ1. cathode Rct. Dimensions and architecture of membraneless MFC units.95%) of the total Rs (EIS data not shown). The RE was 1. it was confirmed that RI and the cathode Rct are .30 J. 2008). Note that Rs includes an electronic resistance (RE) and ionic resistance (RI) (Rismani-Yazdi et al.774 7 0. and Rs of the stacked MFC were almost the same as the sum of the anode Rct. 4).6 Ω between units 2 and 3 of the stacked MFC. resulting from the incomplete contact of rigid graphite to the electrodes. Among these values.8% (Rs: 47. 1996). It is posited here that if conduction is insufficient in the BEA. 2011)—the total internal resistance of a stacked MFC theoretically increases as much as the sum of internal resistances in stacked units (Pain. In order to confirm which resistance dominantly affected the Rs of the stacked MFC. To identify whether the overvoltage of 0. and Rs of the three non-stacked units (Table 1).. there could be two possibilities for such a high Rs in the stacked MFC: (1) high RE occurring in the BEA.004 V between the OCV and 15 kΩ was caused by the increase of Rct and Rs. corresponding to ! 1% ([(1. the anode Rct. it was identified that Rs and the cathode Rct in the stacked MFC were the most critical resistances—accounting for 96. Rs could thus be increased.46] $ 100 ¼0. 1. This overvoltage increase in the stacked MFC mode could probably be due to an increase of Rct and Rs by stacking the MFCs (An et al. the series connection of the units (stacked MFC) using a bipolar plate-electrode assembly (BEA). we determined the performance of another type of a stacked MFC that connects an anode with a cathode using Pt–copper wires (Fig. cathode Rct. 3). An et al. or (2) high RI occurring in the solution between the anode and cathode of each stacked unit.9%) of the total internal resistance. Nyquist plots were obtained via EIS measurements (Fig. cathode Rct: 48. / Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34 Fig.6)/303. indicating that BEA architecture could be a potent alternative for modulization of membraneless and single-chambered MFCs (Fig. we thus confirmed that BEAs having air-exposed cathodes can potentially be used in the stacking of membraneless MFCs. much larger than for the non-stacked MFCs (see Fig. from these results. hence. In addition to EIS measurements. As expected. 4).

004 V). 2(A) it is obvious that the current and the voltage in the stacked MFC are larger than those in the non-stacked units at the external resistances below 10 kΩ (see arrows in the figure). through which the voltage was gradually decreased and became similar to that in the non-stacked unit 2 (Fig. voltage-drop) by RI and cathode Rct is a part of the entire overvoltage incurred throughout the 100–1 kΩ range in the stacked MFC.46 70. similar to that of unit 2 (0.001 V. Fig. indicating that the current in the stacked Fig.01 264.321 V. At 1 kΩ.01 195.84 326.05 102. it is recognized that this interpretation may be somewhat controversial because in this region the overvoltages in non-stacked units were not really significant compared to the stacked MFC.003 V in the stacked MFC occurred between 10 kΩ and 1 kΩ.003 V in the stacked MFC also occurred between the external resistors of 15 kΩ and 1 kΩ. 2.277 9. 5 kΩ. Hence. Fig.76 10.07370.2. 10 kΩ.017 0. and 3) between 100 kΩ and 1 kΩ. 3. 15 kΩ. An et al. it was distinctly observed that a significant overvoltage of 0.5 mA/m2 and 39. (A) V–j curves obtained from non-stacked units 1.00 711. As seen in the figure.68 114.31 J. respectively.4 mA/m2. implying the occurrence of voltage reversal.02 658. At the next external resistance of 5 kΩ. 3.40 86.477 0. 2(A)). and the stacked MFC using 100 kΩ.15 20. 2(A)). 2007.066 V. 3.96 70.66 83.e. However.78 303. 3. which showed the worst performance of the three individual MFC units. and elucidates lowering power density in stacked MFCs (Oh and Logan. Internal resistance (Ω) Non-stacked unit 1 Non-stacked unit 2 Non-stacked unit 3 Non-stacked unit 1 þ2þ 3 Stacked MFC Anode Rct Cathode Rct Rs Sum 5. 3.27 139.93712.94 6. / Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34 a main source of the overvoltage that occurs between the OCV and 15 kΩ external resistance conditions.05 .11 109..86 7 9. The reason for the lower performance in the stacked MFC could be explained by a voltage reversal phenomenon (An and Lee.45 22. These results indicate that the performance of the stacked MFC was even worse than that of unit 2. the voltage of the stacked unit 2 reached ! 0 V at 10 kΩ where units 1 and 2 maintain positive voltages of ! 0. An and Lee. and 1 kΩ external loads and (B): P–j curves obtained from non-stacked units 1.73570.18 7 3. the voltage of the stacked MFC was 0.747 0.64 7 0. In Fig.46 70. 2. 1996).39 7 0. Table 1 Internal resistance analyzed from Nyquist plots. Fig. Comparison of stacked MFC performances using BEA and Pt–copper wires.17 0.01 633. 2. Voltage reversal is a well-known phenomenon in the research field of chemical fuel cells and MFCs. 5 presents voltage evolution in the stacked MFC and each unit in the stacked MFC (denoted as stacked units 1. It should be noted that the overvoltage (i. In contrast.570. 2. 40 kΩ. the current densities in the stacked MFC and unit 2 were 37.67718. the voltage in the stacked unit 1 dropped to % 0. even at 1 kΩ (Fig. 4.09 70.007 19. respectively.223 and 0.21 7 0.55 75. and (B) the stacked MFC. it could be thought that this overvoltage was caused by a mass transfer limitation.26 310. through which a faradaic current flows. and the stacked MFC with BEA. 20 kΩ.00 198.33 308. 2. in press) and a circuit theory in which the amount of current is proportional to the voltage applied when electrochemical cells are connected in series (Pain. the linearity of the voltage drop of the stacked MFC between 10 kΩ and 1 kΩ was steeper than for the non-stacked units (Fig.73570.48 75. Implication of voltage drop at high external resistance in stacked MFC Another significant overvoltage of 0. In addition.337 3. 2014). 30 kΩ. 2(A)). (A) Nyquist plots obtained from the non-stacked units 1.07870.

Series/parallel-integrated MFC module system for scaling-up. An et al. if the number of stacked units is increased. . 2(A) and 5). indicating that the resistance of 5 kΩ is a threshold at which the stacked MFC cannot boost power and can cause voltage reversal when connected in series (see Figs.e. 6. For instance. external resistance was high to low). and that the stacked unit 2 quickly faced current depletion resulting in voltage reversal at 5 kΩ (see Figs.32 J. Note that the V–I curves of both the stacked and non-stacked MFC units were plotted in order to obtain the direction of low to high current (i. Evolutions of voltage to external loads in stacked units and stacked MFC obtained from discharging tests.. there will be a larger current flow in the stacked units due to the voltage increase. MFCs traveled much faster than in the non-stacked units at the external resistances below 10 kΩ due to the voltage increase because of the series stacking. Apparently. As a result. the threshold Fig. the stacked MFC units worked in terms of current and volt boosting when the external resistance was higher than 5 kΩ. the threshold resistance may be changed by the number of stacked units in stacking mode or their current capacity. 2 and 5). However. / Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34 Fig. 5.

BEA architecture could be a potent alternative for stacking membraneless single-chambered MFCs vertically. this new concept might allow the application of MFC technology to be extended to large-scale wastewater treatment processes. 6(a) functions as a bridge to connect the anode ends of stacked MFCs.. which is 2. our configuration is also designed for a parallel connection which can prevent voltage reversal (Ledezma et al.. . which might cause substantial energy loss. such as Pt/C and carbon nanotubes. 2008. DO concentration of the catholyte in contact with the bottom side of the cathode (1. 2(A) and 5). thus the use of a membrane might cause trapping of biogas such as CH4 or H2 which can interferes with ion mass transport (An et al. 2009). Cheng et al.J.27 cm depth from solution surface) was almost 0 mg/L. a cathode immersed in this solution could efficiently react to oxygen in the solution (An et al. The current in the stacked mode flowed much faster than the non-stacked mode until 10 kΩ external load due to voltage increase by series connection. BEA structure is designed to vertically stack MFCs.09 V produced approximately 17 times higher current compared to that imposed at an higher potential of þ0.15 V and %0.37 V the anode has diverse microbial community comprised of Bacteriodetes. 2009). Despite the successful current and voltage boosting obtained using a series connection in this study.. 2010).. In this case. Despite of the concern of oxygen invasion from the cathode to the anode in the membraneless BEA system.. 2013). 2011). The power density of the stacked MFC using BEA was comparable to the stacked MFC using the wires. An et al. we developed a new MFC stacking configuration using a BEA structure and then assessed the overvoltage occurring in the stacked MFC system. For this reason. 2010. if the COD was increased over 40 mg/L.and α-proteoacteria (Torres et al.003 V working voltage. the number of stacking units and their current capacity should be considered critical parameters for designing a stacked MFC system. Note that our MFC units did not use any metal catalysts for the cathodes.3. 2006). 33 To eliminate the possibility of biogas trapping in the BEA structure.5 times higher than the averaged maximum power density of the non-stacked MFC units. which are commonly used in ORRs (Qiao et al. 2010. Hence. Ieropoulos et al. and they demonstrated that ARB grown at anode potentials of % 0. 4. They also showed that the anode microbial community imposed at % 0. 2009. Since silver-nanoparticles would then inhibit growth of aerobic heterotrophic bacteria on the bottom side of the cathode. Conclusions Our stacked MFC with BEA produced a maximum power density of 22. the cathodes of the top MFC units of the stacked MFCs can be connected using a rigid graphite ring bridge (or metal ring bridge) (Fig. and the Research Program for Agricultural Science & Technology Development (Project nos. Recently An and Lee (2014) interpreted that voltage reversal is a result of electrical energy transition from a powerful MFC to a weak MFC of stacked MFC units. 2010). with this BEA structure. we did not employ a membrane in our system. 2009).13 mW/m2 for 0. 2013).37 V. oxygen invasion from the cathode to the anode could become significant and could inactivate ARB (An et al. to prevent the high overvoltage and resulted voltage reversal. 2011). the prevention of voltage reversal in our BEA-equipped MFC system is most critical for long-term operation and high voltage output. 2011). (2009) performed the comparison study for ARB characteristic at different anode potentials using aerobic activity sludge as inoculum.. coating the bottom side of the cathode that is in contact with the solution with silver-nanoparticles could be an effective solution to increase the DO concentration depleted by aerobic heterotrophic bacteria on the cathode (An et al. sulfurreducens). indicating that the electrodes can be positioned as close as possible (41 cm) to minimize solution resistance. Hence. However.. stacked MFC units should have a relatively high current capacity. as one. leading to significant anode potential increase over its cathode potential or vice versa.. we expect that the current and power density can be substantially improved in our stacked MFC configuration by employing metal catalysts and an electrode pretreatment. if the stacked units have a relatively larger current capacity. Importantly. If COD at the cathode was kept less than 40 mg/L. furthermore.. 6(b)).94670. γ. As such. It is posited here that a parallel connection may not only help in increasing the current capacity but also prevent voltage reversal by balancing voltages among serially connected BEA modules (Ieropoulos et al. the poorest of the stacked units quickly faced a significant overvoltage at higher external resistor. There are several options for the MFC upgrade. resulting in voltage reversal. It is well known that anode potential regulates ARB activity and community (Aelterman et al. We found that the current in the stacked MFCs traveled much faster than in the non-stacked units until 10 kΩ due to the voltage increase resulted from the series stacking. The concept suggested in this paper is relatively simple and cost effective because using an air-exposed cathode (passive provision of oxygen to the cathode) with no membrane enables the development of a compact MFC system to be modularized in a series connection without requiring external wires. However. Hence. DO concentration in a solution was dependent on organic strength (An et al. 3.8 70. / Biosensors and Bioelectronics 59 (2014) 28–34 resistance could be raised to over 5 kΩ. it is not yet sufficient for operating electric devices or machines. although the increased distance led to a significant increase in solution resistance (An et al.. 2009. Accordingly increase in anode potential due to voltage reversal could result in change of anode ARB activity and community. the threshold external resistance could become smaller and thus the stacked MFC would boost the voltage and current even at an external resistance smaller than 5 kΩ.. there was no chemical pretreatment for the anode or cathode. In contrast. 2013. but at the higher anode potential of þ0. the Pioneer Research Center for Nano-Morphic Biology Energy Conversion and Storage (20090082812).. Torres et al. because oxygen invasion from the cathode to the anode was an issue in our membraneless BEA architecture. Hence. On the other hand.. Conceptual structure of series/parallel-integrated MFC module and system upgrade In this paper. The terminal graphite plate illustrated in Fig. Acknowledgments This work was supported by National Research Foundation (NRF) (NRF-2013R1A2A2A03014551). thus indicating that the MFC system should be upgraded. and that the stacked unit 2 quickly faced current depletion leading to voltage reversal at 5 kΩ (see Figs. actinoacteria. This can lower the cathodic kinetic activity due to excessive oxygen consumption on the cathode and mixed potential formation (An et al. As such.15 V was 99% similar to Geobacter sulfurreducens (G.. 2010). This could be crucial and informative to modeling stacked MFCs. PJ008517 and PJ00851703 2013) of the Korean government. the performance of stacked MFC systems can be improved by employing cathode catalysts that lowers the activation energy of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).. we kept the distance between the anode and cathode at ! 9 cm such that aerobic heterotrophic bacteria can capture the oxygen diffusing to the anode. Torres et al. the BEA cathode in direct contact with an organic rich solution (medium)— with no membrane—could suffer biofouling with aerobic heterotrophic bacteria.

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