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Series/parallel connection for power enhancement in Microbial Fuel Cells

pubblicazioni - Poster

Series/parallel connection for power enhancement in Microbial Fuel Cells

This paper focuses on electrical energy harvesting from Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). MFCs have gained increasing attention in the last few years, due to the major emphasis placed on providing sustainable energy sources on one side and to monitor the environment on the other. Among the broad range of potential MFCs applications, wastewaters plants are one of the most appealing, since the produced electrical energy may compensate for the significant consumption required during the traditional biodegradation processes. Furthermore, microbial fuel cells can play a key role in the design of self-powered environment sensors thanks to the organic substances dissolved in the soils and water that provide unlimited supply of energy. Lots of studies are investigating the application of microbial electrogenic phenomena for wastewater plants all over the world but more efforts are necessary to improve the cell performance from the viewpoint of materials, cell architecture, and operating conditions in order to bring MFCs to the market. However, MFC-powered applications, such as wireless sensors for environmental monitoring, call for increased power, which can be provided by scaling up a single MFC device or by using more MFCs connected together. The latter solution may overcome the scaling-up issues while exploiting modularity to simplify the MFC system design and improve its reliability. In this work, we experimentally studied the performance of modular MFC systems consisting in the connection of 2 cells in series and in parallel. As a guideline for the choice of topology, we derived an analytical model to determine the electrical parameters of a system composed of two MFCs. The series connection is appealing to increase the voltage but provides lower current and higher internal resistance. On the other hand, the parallel connection gives a lower internal resistance, a lower voltage, and a higher current. In addition, it is more robust with respect to non-working cells (i.e., cells having a very high internal resistance).

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