Electrochemical Characterization of a High-Current-Density Microbial Biocathode with an Air Diffusion Membrane
In microbial fuel cells (MFCs) the biocathode is developed as a potential alternative to chemical cathodic catalysts, which are deemed as expensive and unsustainable for applications. These cells utilize different types of microorganisms as catalysts to promote biodegradation of organic matter while simultaneously converting energy released in metabolic reactions into electrical energy. Most current research have focused more on the anodic microbes, including the current generating bacteria species, anodic microbial community composition, and the mechanisms of the extracellular electron transfer. Compared to the anode, research on the microbes of the biocathode of the MFCs are very limited and are heavily focused on the role of the bacteria in the system. Thus, further understand of the mechanism of the microbial community in the biocathode will create new engineering applications for sustainable energy. Previous research conducted by Strycharz-Glaven et al. presented an electrochemical analysis of a Marinobacter-dominated biocathode communitygrown on biocathodes in sediment/seawater-based MFCs. Chronoamperometry results indicated that current densities up to -0.04 A/m2 were produced for the biocathode. Cyclic voltammetry responses indicated a midpoint potential at 0.196 V ± 0.01 V. However, the reactor design for these experiments showed that no oxygen is supplied to the electrochemical system. By incorporating an air diffusion membrane to the cathode of the reactor, chronoamperometry results have produced current density in the system up to -0.15 A/m2. Cyclic voltammetry results have also displayed a midpoint potential of 0.25 V ± 0.01 V under scan rates of 0.2 mV/s. Thus, this electrochemical setup has increased the current output of the system.