Enhancing substrate utilization and power production of a microbial fuel cell with nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel as cathode catalyst
Catalytic efficiency of a nitrogen-doped, mesoporous carbon aerogel cathode catalyst was investigated in a two-chambered microbial fuel cell (MFC) applying graphite felt as base material for cathode and anode, utilizing peptone as carbon source.
This mesoporous carbon aerogel containing catalyst layer on the cathode increased the maximum power density normalized to the anode volume to 2.7 times higher compared to the maximum power density obtained applying graphite felt cathode without the catalyst layer. At high (2 and 3) cathode/anode volume ratios, maximum power density exceeded 40 W m−3. At the same time, current density and specific substrate utilization rate increased by 58% resulting in 31.9 A m−3 and 18.8 g COD m−3 h−1, respectively (normalized to anode volume). Besides the increase of the power and the rate of biodegradation, the investigated catalyst decreased the internal resistance from the range of 450–600 to 350–370 Ω.
Although Pt/C catalyst proved to be more efficient, a considerable decrease in the material costs might be achieved by substituting it with nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel in MFCs. Such cathode still displays enhanced catalytic effect.
KeywordsCathode catalyst Electricity generation Exoelectrogenic biodegradation Microbial fuel cell Nitrogen-doped mesoporous carbon aerogel Power production
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