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Front. Energy Res. | doi: 10.3389/fenrg.2018.00084

Miniaturised ceramic –based Microbial Fuel Cell for efficient power generation from urine and stack development

 Iwona Gajda1*, Andrew Stinchcombe1, Irene Merino-Jimenez1,  Grzegorz Pasternak1,  Daniel Sanchez-Herranz1, John Greenman1 and  Ioannis A. Ieropoulos1
  • 1University of the West of England, United Kingdom

One of the challenges in Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) technology is the improvement of the power output and the lowering of the cost required to scale up the system to achieve usable energy levels for real life applications. This can be achieved by stacking multiple MFC units in modules and using cost effective ceramic as a membrane/chassis for the reactor architecture. The main aim of this work is to increase the power output efficiency of the ceramic based MFCs by compacting the design and exploring the ceramic support as the building block for small scale modular multi-unit systems. The comparison of the power output showed that the small reactors outperform the large MFCs by improving power density, reaching up to 21 mW/m3. This can be related to the increased surface-area-to-volume ratio of the ceramic vessel, which also acts as a membrane with a decreased electrode distance. The miniaturised design implemented in a 560 MFC unit stack, gave an output of up to 245 mW of power and being increased in power density can utilise the energy locked in the urine at a high rate, with increased efficiency, making MFCs more applicable in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and scale-up-ready for real world implementation.

Keywords: Microbial fuel cell, Urine, Ceramic membrane, stacking, Usable power, bioenergy, Modular stack

Received: 26 Jun 2018; Accepted: 06 Aug 2018.

Edited by:

Vânia Oliveira, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal

Reviewed by:

Ioan Stamatin, University of Bucharest, Romania
Elisabetta Di Bartolomeo, Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Gajda, Stinchcombe, Merino-Jimenez, Pasternak, Sanchez-Herranz, Greenman and Ieropoulos. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Iwona Gajda, University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom, Iwona.Gajda@uwe.ac.uk