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Electricity generation from model organic wastewater in a cassette-electrode microbial fuel cell

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A new highly scalable microbial fuel cell (MFC) design, consisting of a series of cassette electrodes (CE), was examined for increasing power production from organic matter in wastewater. Each CE chamber was composed of a box-shaped flat cathode (two air cathodes on both sides) sandwiched in between two proton-exchange membranes and two graphite-felt anodes. Due to the simple design of the CE-MFC, multiple cassettes can be combined to form a single unit and inserted into a tank to treat wastewater. A 12-chamber CE-MFC was tested using a synthetic wastewater containing starch, peptone, and fish extract. Stable performance was obtained after 15 days of operation in fed-batch mode, with an organic removal efficiency of 95% at an organic loading rate of 2.9 kg chemical oxygen demand (COD) per cubic meter per day and an efficiency of 93% at 5.8 kg COD per cubic meter per day. Power production was stable during this period, reaching maximum power densities of 129 W m−3 (anode volume) and 899 mW m−2 (anode projected area). The internal resistance of CE-MFC decreased from 2.9 (day 4) to 0.64 Ω (day 25). These results demonstrate the usefulness of the CE-MFC design for energy production and organic wastewater treatment.

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We thank Hajime Unno, Tokuji Ikeda, Masaharu Ishii, and Shun’ichi Ishii for valuable discussion and Fusako Numazaki for technical assistance. This work was supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan and by the Paul L. Busch Award to BEL.

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Correspondence to Kazuya Watanabe.

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Shimoyama, T., Komukai, S., Yamazawa, A. et al. Electricity generation from model organic wastewater in a cassette-electrode microbial fuel cell. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 80, 325–330 (2008).

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