Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 965–977 | Cite as

Continuous power generation and microbial community structure of the anode biofilms in a three-stage microbial fuel cell system

  • Kyungmi Chung
  • Satoshi Okabe
Environmental Biotechnology


A mediator-less three-stage two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) system was developed and operated continuously for more than 1.5 years to evaluate continuous power generation while treating artificial wastewater containing glucose (10 mM) concurrently. A stable power density of 28 W/m3 was attained with an anode hydraulic retention time of 4.5 h and phosphate buffer as the cathode electrolyte. An overall dissolved organic carbon removal ratio was about 85%, and coulombic efficiency was about 46% in this MFC system. We also analyzed the microbial community structure of anode biofilms in each MFC. Since the environment in each MFC was different due to passing on the products to the next MFC in series, the microbial community structure was different accordingly. The anode biofilm in the first MFC consisted mainly of bacteria belonging to the Gammaproteobacteria, identified as Aeromonas sp., while the Firmicutes dominated the anode biofilms in the second and third MFCs that were mainly fed with acetate. Cyclic voltammetric results supported the presence of a redox compound(s) associated with the anode biofilm matrix, rather than mobile (dissolved) forms, which could be responsible for the electron transfer to the anode. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the anode biofilms were comprised of morphologically different cells that were firmly attached on the anode surface and interconnected each other with anchor-like filamentous appendages, which might support the results of cyclic voltammetry.


A mediator-less three-stage two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) system Anode biofilm communities Cyclic voltammetry FISH 



This work was partially supported by the twenty-first century COE Program “Sustainable Metabolic System of Water and Waste for Area-Based Society” from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture of Japan and the funding for Basic and Applied Researches on Construction Technologies from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism of Japan. K. Chung was financially supported by the twenty-first century COE Program.

Supplementary material

253_2009_1990_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (61 kb)
Table S1 Distribution of 16S rRNA clones of Bacteria detected in the three-stage two-chamber MFCs (PPT 61 kb)
253_2009_1990_MOESM2_ESM.ppt (62 kb)
Table S2 Distribution of 16S rRNA clones of Archaea detected in the three-stage two-chamber MFCs (PPT 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of EngineeringHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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