Effects of different catalysts on the cathode efficiency of continuous flow microbial fuel cells

Cathodes and copper

This investigation is part of the EcoBot project, and the aim is to determine what influence the choice of the metal catalyst at the cathode has on the output of a microbial fuel cell (MFC).

In particular we will compare the performance against cathodes with live algae as the bio-catalyst. In the past, there have been many investigations aimed at optimising the anode of MFCs, but only a few into the efficiency of the cathode.

Metal and algae catalysts

This project looked at using different metals like copper, cobalt or nickel and algae, and investigated their effects on the reduction of oxygen to water, when compared to a carbon fibre cathode open to the air and also with a continuous water flow. Experiments were carried out for a duration of 5 months monitoring different parameters like the current, voltage, power density and the internal resistance.

We hope to find a catalyst which is almost as good as platinum but much cheaper, that could reduce the costs of MFCs without reducing the energy output.

The investigator, Markus Stoeckl, is a final year Bachelor's student from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

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Bristol BioEnergy Centre
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
University of the West of England
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Bristol, BS16 1QY

Page last updated 5 October 2017