, Volume 25, Issue 12, pp 5907–5918 | Cite as

Tailoring hydrophilic and porous nature of polysiloxane derived ceramer and ceramic membranes for enhanced bioelectricity generation in microbial fuel cell

  • Vignesh Ahilan
  • Gourav Dhar Bhowmick
  • Makarand M. Ghangrekar
  • Michaela WilhelmEmail author
  • Kurosch Rezwan
Original Paper


Selection of proton conducting membrane is currently a key factor that decides the performance of microbial fuel cell (MFC). Uniaxial pressed polysiloxane-derived ceramer and ceramic membrane with proton conducting fillers like montmorillonite and H3PMo12O40/SiO2 were applied for the first time as separator in MFC. Here, we present a series of polymer-derived ceramic membranes tailored based on pyrolysis temperature and filler addition, in which ion exchange capacity, cation transport number, and oxygen permeability are influenced through the hydrophilic and porous structural property. The maximum power density of MFC with polysiloxane-derived ceramer membrane modified with 20 wt% montmorillonite and 10 wt% H3PMo12O40/SiO2 reached a value of 5.66 W m−3, which was four times higher than that with non-modified polysiloxane-derived ceramer membrane. Furthermore, the specific power recovery per unit cost of the membrane was found to be 2-fold higher than MFC using polymeric Nafion membrane. In contrast, MFC with polysiloxane-derived ceramic membrane modified with 20 wt% montmorillonite delivers 1.2 times lower power density (4.20 W m−3) than that with non-modified macroporous polysiloxane-derived ceramic membrane. Hence, the findings demonstrated that tailoring the hydrophilic and porous structure of the ceramic membrane is a new and promising approach to enhance the performance of MFC.

Graphical abstract

Microbial fuel cell with porous membrane and its performance.


Microbial fuel cell Porous structure Hydrophilic nature Polymer-derived ceramics Proton exchange membrane 



microbial fuel cell


ion exchange capacity


silica oxycarbide


polymer-derived ceramics




dissolved oxygen


coulombic efficiency


chemical oxygen demand



This research work was completed due to the financial support provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), INNO INDIGO Partnership Program (01DQ15013) and German Research Foundation (DFG), Research Training Group GRK 1860 “Micro-, meso- and macroporous nonmetallic Materials: Fundamentals and Applications” (MIMENIMA), and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (BT/IN/INNO-INDIGO/28/MMG/2015-16).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vignesh Ahilan
    • 1
  • Gourav Dhar Bhowmick
    • 2
  • Makarand M. Ghangrekar
    • 3
  • Michaela Wilhelm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kurosch Rezwan
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Bremen, Advanced CeramicsBremenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Food EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  4. 4.MAPEX Center for Materials and ProcessesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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