Systematic screening of carbon-based anode materials for bioelectrochemical systems

Zainab Ul, Pilar Sánchez-Peña, Mireia Baeza, Mira Sulonen, David Gabriel, Juan Antonio Baeza*, Albert Guisasola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: The anode material of bioelectrochemical systems (BES) is crucial because its characteristics directly affect electron transfer from the bacteria to the anode. To assess its usefulness, each material must undergo evaluation under relevant operating conditions, as well as a complete electrochemical characterization. RESULTS: Five carbonaceous materials – carbon brush (CB), carbon granules (CG), thicker carbon felt (CF1), high-conductivity carbon felt (CF2), and high-active-area carbon felt (CF3) – anodes were tested in this work. The current generation with each anode material was studied, operating as a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). Two MFC inoculation strategies were tested: (i) fixed 10 Ω external resistance (ER) and (ii) poised anode potential (PA) of 200 mV versus Ag/AgCl. Once reproducible cycles were obtained in MFC operation, CB yielded the highest maximum current density, amounting to 15.9 A m−2. A slightly reduced start-up time was observed for each anode with PA than ER. When the anodes were transferred to MEC operation, the maximum hydrogen production rate of 1.04 m3 H2 m−3 d−1 was obtained for CB. CONCLUSION: This study helps in selecting anode material for BES, allowing a shortening of the start-up time and improving its performance using different inoculation strategies and anode materials. Among all the anode materials employed in this study, CB and CF3 electrodes presented the best overall performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1415
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • carbon-based anode materials
  • microbial electrolysis cell (MEC)
  • microbial fuel cell (MFC)
  • poised anode potential
  • start-up time


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