Effect of Using Various Cathode Materials (Carbon Felt, Ni-Co, Cu-B, and Cu-Ag) on the Operation of Microbial Fuel Cell
More details
Hide details
Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Opole, Poland
Submission date: 2023-12-13
Final revision date: 2024-01-22
Acceptance date: 2024-01-27
Online publication date: 2024-02-01
Publication date: 2024-02-01
Corresponding author
Paweł Piotr Włodarczyk   

Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Opole, Poland
Civil and Environmental Engineering Reports 2023;33(4):95-105
Wastewater has high potential as an energy source. Therefore, it is important to recover even the smallest part of this energy, e.g., in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). The obtained electricity production depends on the process rate of the electrodes. In MFC, the microorganisms are the catalyst of anode, and the cathode is usually made of carbon material. To increase the MFC efficiency it is necessary to search the new cathode materials. In this work, the electricity production from yeast wastewater in membrane-less microbial fuel cells with a carbon felt, Ni-Co, Cu-B, and Cu-Ag cathodes has been analyzed. In the first place, the measurements of the stationary potential of the electrodes (with Cu-Ag catalyst obtained by the electrochemical deposition technique) were performed. Next, the analysis of the electric energy production during the operation of the membrane-less microbial fuel cell (ML-MFC). The highest parameters were obtained for the Ni-Co and Cu-Ag catalysts. The cell voltage of 607 mV for Ni-Co and 605 mV for Cu-Ag was obtained. Additionally, the power of 4.29 mW for both cathodes - Ni-Co and Cu-Ag was obtained. Moreover, Ni-Co and Cu-Ag allow the shortest time of COD reduction. Based on the test results (with selected MFC design, wastewater, temperature, etc.), it can be concluded that of all the analyzed electrodes, Cu-Ag and Ni-Co electrodes have the best parameters for use as cathodes in ML-MFC. However, based on the results of this study, it can be concluded that all the tested electrodes can be used as cathode material in MFC.
Davis, ML 2019. Water And Wastewater Engineering: Design Principles and Practice, Second Edition. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Athens, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, New Delhi, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Education.
Riffat, R and Husnain, T 2022. Fundamentals of Wastewater Treatment and Engineering. Abingdon-on-Thames: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Ruppert, G, Bauer, R and Heisler, G 1993. The photo-Fenton reaction — an effective photochemical wastewater treatment process. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry 73 (1), 75-78.
Smol, M and Włodarczyk-Makuła, M 2012. Effectiveness in the removal of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons from industrial wastewater by ultrafiltration technique. Archives of Environmental Protection 38 (4), 49-58.
Vishwakarma, S and Dharmendra, D 2022. A Critical Review on Economical and Sustainable Solutions for Wastewater Treatment Using Constructed Wetland. Civil and Environmental Engineering Reports 32(3), 260–284.
Włodarczyk, B and Włodarczyk, PP 2019. Analysis of the Potential of an Increase in Yeast Output Resulting from the Application of Additional Process Wastewater in the Evaporator Station. Applied Sciences 9 (11), 2282.
Park, JY and Chertow, MR 2014. Establishing and testing the “reuse potential” indicator for managing wastes as resources. Journal of Environmental Management 137, 45-53.
Bui, T-D, Tseng, J-W, Tseng, M-L and Lim, MK 2022, Opportunities and challenges for solid waste reuse and recycling in emerging economies: A hybrid analysis. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 177, 105968.
Kim, S and Paulos, E 2011. Practices in the creative reuse of e-waste. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2395–2404.
Li, N, Han, R, Lu, X 2018. Bibliometric analysis of research trends on solid waste reuse and recycling during 1992–2016. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 130, 109-117.
Jagaba, AH, Bashir, FM, Lawal, IM, Usman, AK, Yaro, NSA, Birniwa, AH, Hamdoun, HY, Shannan, NM 2023. Agricultural wastewater treatment using oil palm waste activated hydrochar for reuse in plant irrigation: Synthesis, Characterization, and Process Optimization. Agriculture 13, 1531.
Jayanthi, V, Avudaiappan, S, Amran, M, Arunachalam, KP, Qader, DN, Delgado, MC, Flores EIS, Rashid, RSM 2023. Innovative use of micronized biomass silica-GGBS as agro-industrial by-products for the production of a sustainable high-strength geopolymer concrete. Case Studies in Construction Materials 18, e01782.
Kaur, B, Panesar, PS, Anal, AK and Chu-Ky, S 2023. Recent trends in the management of mango by-products, Food Reviews International 39 (7), 4159-4179.
Zhou, M, Fakayode, OA and Li, H 2023. Green extraction of polyphenols via deep eutectic solvents and assisted technologies from agri-food by-products. Molecules 28, 6852.
Sadecka, Z 2010. Podstawy biologicznego oczyszczania ścieków. Wydawnictwo Seidel-Przywecki: Józefosław.
Sikora, J and Miksch, K 2010. Biotechnologia ścieków. Wydawnictwa Naukowe PWN: Warszawa.
Bartkiewicz, B, Umiejewska, K 2020. Oczyszczanie ścieków przemysłowych. Wydawnictwa Naukowe PWN: Warszawa.
Logan, BE 2008. Microbial Fuel Cells. Hoboken: Wiley.
Wolf, S, Teitge, J, Mielke, J, Schütze, F, Jaeger, C 2021. The European Green Deal — More Than Climate Neutrality. Intereconomics 56, 99–107.
Tsiropoulos, I, Siskos, P and Capros, P 2022. The cost of recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the EU in a climate neutrality context: Factors influencing investments in 2030 and 2050. Applied Energy 322, 119446.
Wiese, F, Thema, J and Cordroch, L 2022. Strategies for climate neutrality. Lessons from a meta-analysis of German energy scenarios. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Transition 2, 100015.
Rabaey, K and Verstraete, W 2005. Microbial fuel cells: Novel biotechnology for energy generation. Trends Biotechnol. 23, 291–298.
Franks, AE and Nevin, KP 2010. Microbial fuel cells, a current review. Energies 3 (5), 899-919.
Davis, JB, Yarbrough, HF 1962. Preliminary experiments on a microbial fuel cell. Science 137 (3530), 615-616.
Berk, RS and Canfield, JH 1964. Bioelectrochemical energy conversion. Appl Microbiol 12(1), 10-2.
Bond, DR and Lovley, DR 2003. Electricity production by Geobacter sulfurreducens attached to electrodes. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69, 1548-1555.
Chaudhuri, SK and Lovley, DR 2003. Electricity generation by direct oxidation of glucose in mediatorless microbial fuel cells. Nature Biotechnology 21 (10), 1229-1232.
Bond, DR and Lovley, DR 2005. Evidence for involvement of an electron shuttle in electricity generation by Geothrix fermentans. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71 (4), 2186–2189.
Markowska, K, Grudniak, AM and Wolska, KI 2013. Mikrobiologiczne ogniwa paliwowe: Podstawy technologii, jej ograniczenia i potencjalne zastosowania. Postępy Mikrobiologii 52 (1), 29–40.
Kim, HJ, Park, HS, Hyun, MS, Chang, IS, Kim, M, Kim, BHA 2022. Mediator-Less Microbial Fuel Cell Using a Metal Reducing Bacterium, Shewanella Putrefaciens. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 30, 145-152.
Chiao, M.; Lam, K.B.; Lin, L. Micromachined microbial and photosynthetic fuel cells. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering 2006, 16 (12), 2547-2553.
Min B.; Cheng S.; Logan B.E. Electricity generation using membrane and salt bridge microbial fuel cells. Water Research 2005, 39, 1675–1686.
Mitra P.; Hill G.A. Continuous microbial fuel cell using a photoautotrophic cathode and a fermentative anode. The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering 2012, 90, 1006–1010.
Prasad, D, Arun, S, Murugesan M, Padmanaban S, Satyanarayanan R.S, Berchmans S.; Yegnaraman V. Direct electron transfer with yeast cells and construction of a mediatorless microbial fuel cells. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2007, 22 (11), 2604–2610.
Reguera, G, McCarthy, KD, Mehta, T, Nicoll, JS, Tuominen, MT and Lovley, DR 2005. Extracellular electron transfer via microbial nanowires. Nature 435 (7045), 1098–1101.
Pham, TH, Rabaey, K, Aelterman, P and Clauwaert, P 2006. De Schamphelaire L., Boon N., Verstraete W. Microbial fuel cells in relation to conventional anaerobic digestion technology. Engineering in Life Science 6, 285–292.
Aelterman, P, Rabaey, K, Pham, HT, Boon, N and Verstraete, W 2006. Continuous electricity generation at high voltages and currents using stacked microbial fuel cells. Environmental Science & Technology 40 (10), 3388–3394.
Lee, J, Phung, NT, Chang, IS, Kim, BH, Sung, HC 2003. Use of acetate for enrichment of electrochemically active microorganisms and their 16S rDNA analyses. FEMS Microbiology Letters 223 (2), 185–191.
Patil, SA, Surakasi, VP, Koul, S, Ijmulwar, S, Vivek, A, Shouche, YS, Kapadnis, BP 2009. Electricity generation using chocolate industry wastewater and its treatment in activated sludge based microbial fuel cell and analysis of developed microbial community in the anode chamber. Bioresource Technology 100 (21), 5132–5139.
Sun, J, Li, Y, Hu, Y, Hou, B, Xu, Q, Zhang, Y, Li, S 2012. Enlargement of anode for enhanced simultaneous azo dye decolorization and power output in air-cathode microbial fuel cell. Biotechnology Letters 34 (11), 2023-2029.
Zhang, G, Wang, K., Zhao, Q, Jiao, Y, Lee, DJ 2012. Effect of cathode types on long-term performance and anode bacterial communities in microbial fuel cells. Bioresource Technology 118, 249–256.
Kižys, K, Zinovičius, A, Jakštys, B, Bružaitė, I, Balčiūnas, E, Petrulevičienė, M, Ramanavičius, A, Morkvėnaitė-Vilkončienė, I 2023. Microbial Biofuel Cells: Fundamental Principles, Development and Recent Obstacles. Biosensors 13, 221.
Noori, MdT, Ghangrekar, MM, Mukherjee, CK 2016. V2O5 microflower decorated cathode for enhancing power generation in air-cathode microbial fuel cell treating fish market wastewater. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 41 (5), 3638-3645.
Li, Y, Liu, L, Yang, F, Ren, N 2015. Performance of carbon fiber cathode membrane with C–Mn–Fe–O catalyst in MBR–MFC for wastewater treatment. Journal of Membrane Science 484, 27-34.
Włodarczyk, B, Włodarczyk, PP 2020. The membrane-less microbial fuel cell (ML-MFC) with Ni-Co and Cu-B cathode powered by the process wastewater from yeast production. Energies 13, 3976.
Włodarczyk, PP, Włodarczyk, B 2022. Feasibility of waste engine oil electrooxidation with Ni-Co and Cu-B catalysts. Energies 15, 7686.
Dumas, C, Mollica, A, Féron, D, Basséguy, R, Etcheverry, L, Bergel, A 2006. Marine microbial fuel cell: Use of stainless steel electrodes as anode and cathode materials. Electrochimica Acta 53, 468–473.
Martin, E, Tartakovsky, B, Savadogo, O 2011. Cathode materials evaluation in microbial fuel cells: A comparison of carbon, Mn2O3, Fe2O3 and platinum materials. Electrochimica Acta 58, 58–66.
Tsai, HY, Wu, CC, Lee, CY, Shih, EP 2009. Microbial fuel cell performance of multiwall carbon nanotubes on carbon cloth as electrodes. Journal of Power Sources 194 (1), 199-205.
Wei, J, Liang, P, Huang, X 2011. Recent progress in electrodes for microbial fuel cells. Bioresource Technology 102 (20), 9335-9344.
Włodarczyk, PP and Włodarczyk, B 2019. Wastewater treatment and electricity production in a microbial fuel cell with Cu–B alloy as the cathode catalyst. Catalysts 9, 572.
Bockris, JOM, Reddy, AKN 2000. Modern Electrochemistry. New York: Kulwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Cheng, S, Liu, H, Logan, BE 2006. Power densities using different cathode catalysts (Pt and CoTMPP) and polymer binders (Nafion and PTFE) in single chamber microbial fuel cells. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40, 364–369.
Armour, MA 2003. Hazarodous laboratory chemicals disposal guide. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Sun, J, Hu, Y, Bi, Z, Cao, Y 2009. Improved performance of air-cathode single-chamber microbial fuel cell for wastewater treatment using microfiltration membranes and multiple sludge inoculation. Journal of Power Sources 187 (2), 471-479.
Włodarczyk, PP, Włodarczyk, B 2019. Preparation and analysis of Ni–Co catalyst use for electricity production and COD reduction in microbial fuel cells. Catalysts 9, 1042.
Włodarczyk, PP, Włodarczyk, B 2018. Microbial fuel cell with Ni–Co cathode powered with yeast wastewater. Energies 11, 3194.
Tench, DM, White, JT 1992. A new periodic displacement method applied to electrodeposition of Cu-Ag alloys. J. Electrochem. Soc. 139, 443.
Bernasconi, R, Hart, JL, Lang, AC, Magagnin, L, Nobili, L, Taheri, ML 2017. Structural properties of electrodeposited Cu-Ag alloys. Electrochim. Acta 251, 475–481.
Shao, W, Sun, Y, Zangari, G 2021. Electrodeposition of Cu-Ag Alloy Films at n-Si(001) and Polycrystalline Ru Substrates. Coatings 11, 1563.
Włodarczyk, B, Włodarczyk, PP 2023. electricity production from yeast wastewater in membrane-less microbial fuel cell with Cu-Ag cathode. Energies 16, 2734.
Logan, BE, Hamelers, B, Rozendal, R, Schroder, U, Keller, J, Verstraete, W, Rabaey, K 2006. Microbial fuel cells:  Methodology and technology. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40, 5181–5192.
Huggins, T, Fallgren, PH, Jin, S, Ren, ZJ 2013. Energy and performance comparison of microbial fuel cell and conventional aeration treating of wastewater. J. Microb. Biochem. Technol. S6, 1–5.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top