Granular activated carbon single-chamber microbial fuel cells (GAC-SCMFCs): A design suitable for large-scale wastewater treatment processes
As an emerging biotechnology capable of removing contaminants and producing electricity, microbial fuel cells (MFCs) hold a promising future in wastewater treatment. However, several main problems, including the high internal resistance (Rin), low power output, expensive material, and complicated configuration have severely hindered the large-scale application of MFCs. The study targeted these challenges by developing a novel MFC system, granular activated carbon single-chamber MFC, termed as GAC-SCMFC. The batch tests showed that GAC was a good substitute for carbon cloth and GAC-SCMFCs generated high and stable power outputs compared with the traditional two-chamber MFCs (2CMFCs). Critical operational parameters (i.e. wastewater substrate concentrations, GAC amount, electrode distance) affecting the performance of GAC-SCMFCs were examined at different levels. The results showed that the Rin gradually decreased from 60 Ω to 45 Ω and the power output increased from 0.2 W/m3 to 1.2 W/m3 when the substrate concentrations increased from 100 mg/L to 850 mg/L. However, at high concentrations of 1000–1500 mg/L, the power output leveled off. The Rin of MFCs decreased 50% when the electrode distance was reduced from 7.5 cm to 1 cm. The highest power was achieved at the electrode distance of 2 cm. The power generation increased with more GAC being added in MFCs due to the higher amount of biomass attached. Finally, the multi-anode GAC-SCMFCs were developed to effectively collect the electrons generated in the GAC bed. The results showed that the current was split among the multiple anodes, and the cathode was the limiting factor in the power production of GAC-SCMFCs.
Journal: Biochemical Engineering Journal - Volume 47, Issues 1–3, 1 December 2009, Pages 31–37