Matching Items (5)

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Electrolyte- and transport-enhanced thermogalvanic energy conversion

Description

Waste heat energy conversion remains an inviting subject for research, given the renewed emphasis on energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction. Solid-state thermoelectric devices have been widely investigated, but

Waste heat energy conversion remains an inviting subject for research, given the renewed emphasis on energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction. Solid-state thermoelectric devices have been widely investigated, but their practical application remains challenging because of cost and the inability to fabricate them in geometries that are easily compatible with heat sources. An intriguing alternative to solid-state thermoelectric devices is thermogalvanic cells, which include a generally liquid electrolyte that permits the transport of ions. Thermogalvanic cells have long been known in the electrochemistry community, but have not received much attention from the thermal transport community. This is surprising given that their performance is highly dependent on controlling both thermal and mass (ionic) transport. This research will focus on a research project, which is an interdisciplinary collaboration between mechanical engineering (i.e. thermal transport) and chemistry, and is a largely experimental effort aimed at improving fundamental understanding of thermogalvanic systems. The first part will discuss how a simple utilization of natural convection within the cell doubles the maximum power output of the cell. In the second part of the research, some of the results from the previous part will be applied in a feasibility study of incorporating thermogalvanic waste heat recovery systems into automobiles. Finally, a new approach to enhance Seebeck coefficient by tuning the configurational entropy of a mixed-ligand complex formation of copper sulfate aqueous electrolytes will be presented. Ultimately, a summary of these results as well as possible future work that can be formed from these efforts is discussed.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Thermophilic microbial electrochemical cells

Description

Microbial Electrochemical Cell (MXC) technology harnesses the power stored in wastewater by using anode respiring bacteria (ARB) as a biofilm catalyst to convert the energy stored in waste into hydrogen

Microbial Electrochemical Cell (MXC) technology harnesses the power stored in wastewater by using anode respiring bacteria (ARB) as a biofilm catalyst to convert the energy stored in waste into hydrogen or electricity. ARB, or exoelectrogens, are able to convert the chemical energy stored in wastes into electrical energy by transporting electrons extracellularly and then transferring them to an electrode. If MXC technology is to be feasible for ‘real world’ applications, it is essential that diverse ARB are discovered and their unique physiologies elucidated- ones which are capable of consuming a broad spectrum of wastes from different contaminated water sources.

This dissertation examines the use of Gram-positive thermophilic (60 ◦C) ARB in MXCs since very little is known regarding the behavior of these microorganisms in this setting. Here, we begin with the draft sequence of the Thermincola ferriacetica genome and reveal the presence of 35 multiheme c-type cytochromes. In addition, we employ electrochemical techniques including cyclic voltammetry (CV) and chronoamperometry (CA) to gain insight into the presence of multiple pathways for extracellular electron transport (EET) and current production (j) limitations in T. ferriacetica biofilms.

Next, Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus, a fermentative ARB, is investigated for its ability to ferment pentose and hexose sugars prior to using its fermentation products, including acetate and lactate, for current production in an MXC. Using CA, current production is tracked over time with the generation and consumption of fermentation products. Using CV, the midpoint potential (EKA) of the T. pseudethanolicus EET pathway is revealed.

Lastly, a cellulolytic microbial consortium was employed for the purpose ofassessing the feasibility of using thermophilic MXCs for the conversion of solid waste into current production. Here, a highly enriched consortium of bacteria, predominately from the Firmicutes phylum, is capable of generating current from solid cellulosic materials.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Microbial electrochemical cells for selective enrichment and characterization of photosynthetic and haloalkaliphilic anode-respiring bacteria

Description

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) are promising platforms for bioenergy production from renewable resources. In these systems, specialized anode-respiring bacteria (ARB) deliver electrons from oxidation of organic substrates to the anode

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) are promising platforms for bioenergy production from renewable resources. In these systems, specialized anode-respiring bacteria (ARB) deliver electrons from oxidation of organic substrates to the anode of an MXC. While much progress has been made in understanding the microbiology, physiology, and electrochemistry of well-studied model ARB such as Geobacter and Shewanella, tremendous potential exists for MXCs as microbiological platforms for exploring novel ARB. This dissertation introduces approaches for selective enrichment and characterization of phototrophic, halophilic, and alkaliphilic ARB. An enrichment scheme based on manipulation of poised anode potential, light, and nutrient availability led to current generation that responded negatively to light. Analysis of phototrophically enriched communities suggested essential roles for green sulfur bacteria and halophilic ARB in electricity generation. Reconstruction of light-responsive current generation could be successfully achieved using cocultures of anode-respiring Geobacter and phototrophic Chlorobium isolated from the MXC enrichments. Experiments lacking exogenously supplied organic electron donors indicated that Geobacter could produce a measurable current from stored photosynthate in the dark. Community analysis of phototrophic enrichments also identified members of the novel genus Geoalkalibacter as potential ARB. Electrochemical characterization of two haloalkaliphilic, non-phototrophic Geoalkalibacter spp. showed that these bacteria were in fact capable of producing high current densities (4-8 A/m2) and using higher organic substrates under saline or alkaline conditions. The success of these selective enrichment approaches and community analyses in identifying and understanding novel ARB capabilities invites further use of MXCs as robust platforms for fundamental microbiological investigations.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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A new class of solid state, single-ion conductors (H+ and Li+): silicon-based plastic crystals

Description

Plastic crystals as a class are of much interest in applications as solid state electrolytes for electrochemical energy conversion devices. A subclass exhibit very high protonic conductivity and its members

Plastic crystals as a class are of much interest in applications as solid state electrolytes for electrochemical energy conversion devices. A subclass exhibit very high protonic conductivity and its members have been investigated as possible fuel cell electrolytes, as first demonstrated by Haile’s group in 2001 with CsHSO4. To date these have been inorganic compounds with tetrahedral oxyanions carrying one or more protons, charge-balanced by large alkali cations. Above the rotator phase transition, the HXO4- anions re-orient at a rate dependent on temperature while the centers of mass remain ordered. The transition is accompanied by a conductivity "jump" (as much as four orders of magnitude, to ~ 10 mScm-1 in the now-classic case of CsHSO4) due to mobile protons. These superprotonic plastic crystals bring a “true solid state” alternative to polymer electrolytes, operating at mild temperatures (150-200ºC) without the requirement of humidification. This work describes a new class of solid acids based on silicon, which are of general interest. Its members have extraordinary conductivities, as high as 21.5 mS/cm at room temperature, orders of magnitude above any previous reported case. Three fuel cells are demonstrated, delivering current densities as high as 225 mA/cm2 at short-circuit at 130ºC in one example and 640 mA/cm2 at 87ºC in another. The new compounds are insoluble in water, and their remarkably high conductivities over a wide temperature range allow for lower temperature operations, thus reducing the risk of hydrogen sulfide formation and dehydration reactions. Additionally, plastic crystals have highly advantageous properties that permit their application as solid state electrolytes in lithium batteries. So far only doped materials have been presented. This work presents for the first time non-doped plastic crystals in which the lithium ions are integral part of the structure, as a solid state electrolyte. The new electrolytes have conductivities of 3 to 10 mS/cm at room temperature, and in one example maintain a highly conductive state at temperatures as low as -30oC. The malleability of the materials and single ion conducting properties make these materials highly interesting candidates as a novel class of solid state lithium conductors.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Building microbial communities and managing fermentation in microbial electrolysis cells

Description

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) offer an alternative to methane production in anaerobic water treatment and the recapture of energy in waste waters. MXCs use anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) offer an alternative to methane production in anaerobic water treatment and the recapture of energy in waste waters. MXCs use anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to oxidize organic compounds and generate electrical current. In both anaerobic digestion and MXCs, an anaerobic food web connects the metabolisms of different microorganisms, using hydrolysis, fermentation and either methanogenesis or anode respiration to break down organic compounds, convert them to acetate and hydrogen, and then convert those intermediates into either methane or current. In this dissertation, understanding and managing the interactions among fermenters, methanogens, and ARB were critical to making developments in MXCs. Deep sequencing technologies were used in order to identify key community members, understand their role in the community, and identify selective pressures that drove the structure of microbial communities. This work goes from developing ARB communities by finding and using the best partners to managing ARB communities with undesirable partners. First, the foundation of MXCs, namely the ARB they rely on, was expanded by identifying novel ARB, the genus Geoalkalibacter, and demonstrating the presence of ARB in 7 out of 13 different environmental samples. Second, a new microbial community which converted butyrate to electricity at ~70% Coulombic efficiency was assembled and demonstrated that mixed communities can be used to assemble efficient ARB communities. Third, varying the concentrations of sugars and ethanol fed to methanogenic communities showed how increasing ED concentration drove decreases in methane production and increases in both fatty acids and the propionate producing genera Bacteroides and Clostridium. Finally, methanogenic batch cultures, fed glucose and sucrose, and exposed to 0.15 – 6 g N-NH4+ L-1 showed that increased NH4+ inhibited methane production, drove fatty acid and lactate production, and enriched Lactobacillales (up to 40% abundance) above 4 g N-NH4+ L-1. Further, 4 g N-NH4+ L-1 improved Coulombic efficiencies in MXCs fed with glucose and sucrose, and showed that MXC communities, especially the biofilm, are more resilient to high NH4+ than comparable methanogenic communities. These developments offer new opportunities for MXC applications, guidance for efficient operation of MXCs, and insights into fermentative microbial communities.

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Date Created
  • 2015