349927 Microbial Fuel Cell Material Characterization

Monday, November 4, 2013
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton)
Christian Wilson1, Douglas Aaron2, Gabriel Goenaga3 and Thomas Zawodzinski3, (1)Chemical Engineering, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, (2)University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, (3)Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Microbial fuel cells (MFC) are an ever-growing clean energy technology.  Like hydrogen fuel cells, they harmonize the relationship between system design parameters and operating parameters; however biological aspects must be accounted for as well.  MFCs function to recover energy from organic waste through the transfer of electrons from bacteria to an anodic surface (ex. carbon felt electrode). Optimizing the transfer of electrons from bacteria to the anodic surface is the ultimate goal.  Characterization of the carbon felt electrode was carried out with the ferri/ferrocyanide redox couple using cyclic voltammetry in an attempt to minimize the overpotential of the reduction and oxidation, as a reversible process is favored in a redox couple. Highly reversible behavior was observed, suggesting the carbon felt was a suitable support for the bacteria.  Various system design parameters were used to minimize high frequency resistance such as the behavior of the membrane between the electrodes (ex. proton exchange membrane (PEM) v. anion exchange membrane (AEM)), and cathode catalysts (ex. platinum v. non-precious metal catalyst).  The MFC design is single-chambered and was constructed to minimize contact resistance.  Further studies will be focused towards electrode material optimization.

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