Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 59, Issue 18, pp 2214–2220 | Cite as

Polarization behavior of microbial fuel cells under stack operation

  • Zejie Wang
  • Yicheng Wu
  • Lu Wang
  • Feng Zhao
Article Materials Science


The polarization behavior of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was evaluated under different stack operation modes, including series, parallel, series–parallel, and parallel–series. During the stack operation, voltages of individual MFCs, subunit stacks, and overall stacks were recorded as a function of the current. Meanwhile, the potentials of individual MFCs’ anode and cathode were also determined via Ag/AgCl electrodes to study the change in potentials under stack operations. The results demonstrated that the MFCs with relatively low ability to generate current were easier to suffer polarity reversal in the series stack, which was confirmed in the series subunit of the series–parallel stack. MFCs with high electroactivity would be enhanced to generate larger maximum power; however, MFCs with low electroactivity outputted smaller maximum power in a parallel stack. The changes in individual MFCs’ behavior under stack operation mode were determined primarily caused by the influences on the behavior of the anode. Results of the present study provide valuable information for optimization of stack operation of MFCs.


Microbial fuel cells Stack operation Polarization Power generation 



This work was supported by the Main Direction Program of Knowledge Innovation (KZCXZ-EW-402), the Hundred Talents Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21177122, 21306182), and Ministry of Science and Technology (2011AA060907). Thanks should be given to Dr. Claudio Avignone-Rossa from University of Surry, UK for the English edition and helpful suggestions.

Supplementary material

11434_2014_243_MOESM1_ESM.docx (143 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 143 kb)


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Urban EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXiamenChina

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