Characterizing Buffers to Maximize Peroxide Production in the Cathode Chamber of Microbial Fuel Cells
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) facilitate the conversion of organic matter to electrical current to make the total energy in black water treatment neutral or positive and produce hydrogen peroxide to assist the reuse of gray water. This research focuses on wastewater treatment at the U.S. military forward operating bases (FOBs). FOBs experience significant challenges with their wastewater treatment due to their isolation and dangers in transporting waste water and fresh water to and from the bases. Even though it is theoretically favorable to produce power in a MFC while treating black water, producing H2O2 is more useful and practical because it is a powerful cleaning agent that can reduce odor, disinfect, and aid in the treatment of gray water. Various acid forms of buffers were tested in the anode and cathode chamber to determine if the pH would lower in the cathode chamber while maintaining H2O2 efficiency, as well as to determine ion diffusion from the anode to the cathode via the membrane. For the catholyte experiments, phosphate and bicarbonate were tested as buffers while sodium chloride was the control. These experiments determined that the two buffers did not lower the pH. It was seen that the phosphate buffer reduced the H2O2 efficiency significantly while still staying at a high pH, while the bicarbonate buffer had the same efficiency as the NaCl control. For the anolyte experiments, it was shown that there was no diffusion of the buffers or MFC media across the membrane that would cause a decrease in the H2O2 production efficiency.