About this Research Topic
It is well known that the use of fossil fuels to produce energy leads to two major problems. One is that fossil fuels are limited in amount, and the other are the environmental problems that are emerging due to their use. Therefore, besides the improvement of conventional systems towards more efficient and environmental friendly systems, new technologies are needed to progressively replace fossil sources.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are considered to be a promising technology to achieve this, since they can generate electricity from waste produced by human beings, which contain substrates and microorganisms. Moreover, when a wastewater is used, MFCs can perform waste treatment while recovering energy, offsetting the operational costs of wastewater treatment plants. Additionally, MFCs operate under ambient conditions, are similar to any other type of fuel cell but are fuelled by organic matter, which is neither toxic as methanol nor explosive as hydrogen. However, the lower power outputs and the higher costs of MFCs remain problematic, and present main challenges towards their use.
This Research Topic intends to make the difference among similar few titles available in the Microbial Fuel cells field, and discusses the key work done in order to improve MFC performance based on their limitations regarding both fundamental and technological issues. The main idea is to provide an overview on the challenges and developments in MFCs and on the recent work concerning their optimization, and towards their commercialization and massive application. Based on that, an economic evaluation of these systems is also addressed. This Research Topic has the main goal to be a valuable reference for microbial cell and energy researchers, designers and manufacturers.
The Research Topic is structured in two parts. Part I reviews the fundamental science of microbial fuel cells, covering in detail the operating principals, thermodynamics, microorganism and substrates, biofilms fundamentals, cell performance/polarization behavior, mass and heat transfer phenomena and basic modelling aspects for this type of fuel cells. In Part I, a detailed description of the experimental techniques for characterization and diagnostics pertinent to microbial fuel cell research and development is also provided.
Part II covers engineering, technological aspects and microbial fuel cell applications. It focuses on the state-of-the-art, main goals and challenges in the operating conditions, performance, configuration, scale-up and commercialization areas. The different applications for this type of fuel cell will be covered in detail in this part of the Research Topic and a cost benefit analysis where this technology is compared to conventional ones is also presented. Finally part II, also presents the research and development trends for the future of the MFC systems.
This research topic will entails a mixture of different contributions that will go from original research articles, to reviews and minireviews and technology reports. Since this research topic intends to provide the current and future trends of the MFC technology, hypothesis and theory and perspective articles are, also, included.
Keywords: Fundamentals, challenges, scale-up, applications, economical evaluation
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