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Article RSE 14005962

Performance explorations of single chamber microbial fuel cells by using various microelectrodes applied to biocathodes

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International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, vol. 39 (2014), pp. 21837-21846 , Luglio-2014.

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E. Guerrini (Università di Milano), M. Grattieri (Politecnico di Milano), S.P. Trasatti (Università di Milano), M. Bestetti (Politecnico di Milano), P. Cristiani (RSE SpA)

EFFICIENZA 2014 - Electricity savings in the fields of civil, industry and services

Correlations among biofilm activity, chemistry and power production of membraneless, single chambermicrobial fuel cells (MFC)

Correlations among biofilm activity, chemistry and power production of membraneless, single chamber microbial fuel cells (MFC) were established using four microelectrodes. Each different (pH, redox, conductivity, S_2) microelectrode was assembled, calibrated and located close to the cathode. Power productivity of five MFCs was explained in terms of response of the microelectrodes. pH variation demonstrated that a proton gradient establishes within the cathodic biofilm, increasing acidity near the electrode. Conductivity increases inside the biofilm, proving low diffusion and increased ion concentration. Redox profiles provide a significant improvement to the understanding of the biochemical equilibria inside and outside the biofilm. Sulphide variations emphasize the role of the sulphur cycle in the MFC development. Diffusion hindrance seems the key-factor for the development of a biofilm and the establishment of a natural separation of the cell in cathodic and anodic compartments.

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