Obtaining microbial communities with exoelectrogenic activity from anaerobic sludge using a simplified procedure

Edgar Ribot-Llobet, Nuria Montpart, Yolanda Ruiz-Franco, Laura Rago, Javier Lafuente, Juan Antonio Baeza, Albert Guisasola, Francisco Javier Lafuente Sancho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


© 2013 Society of Chemical Industry. Background: The microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology transforms the chemical energy present in substrates into electricity. Starting-up these systems, i.e. enriching the anodic community in exoelectrogenic bacteria, is a lengthy process or requires expensive equipment. Results: An easy and low-cost procedure based on a sediment MFC was developed to select microbial communities with exoelectrogenic activity from the anaerobic sludge of a waste water treatment plant (WWTP). The configuration was based on a simple vessel working as a single chamber MFC with a cathode of stainless steel wool in the liquid surface and a submerged graphite fibre brush as anode. In 30 days of operation, a biofilm with remarkable exoelectrogenic activity was grown on the anode of the MFC. This graphite fibre brush anode was able to supply 0.9 W m-2 when working in an air-cathode MFC (AC-MFC) for 45 days. Conclusion: The procedure presented was demonstrated to be a successful, low-cost and low-maintenance procedure to obtain exoelectrogenic activity and had performances comparable with other more costly and complex inoculation procedures. The Sed-MFC does not require a potentiostat, external aeration, stirring, membranes or an enriched inoculum in the exoelectrogenic biomass.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1727-1732
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Anaerobic sludge
  • Exoelectrogenic bacteria
  • Microbial fuel cell (MFC)
  • Sediment MFC
  • Stainless steel cathode


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