Current output of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) depends on a number of engineering variables mainly related to the design of the fuel cell reactor and the materials used. In most cases the engineering of MFCs relies on the premise that for a constant biomass, current output correlates well with the metabolic activity of the cells. In this study we analyze to what extent, MFC output is also affected by the mode of operation, emphasizing how discontinuous operation can affect temporal patterns of current output.The experimental work has been carried out with Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, grown in conventional two-chamber MFCs subject to periodic interruptions of the external circuit. Our results indicate that after closure of the external circuit, current intensity shows a peak that decays back to basal values. The result suggests that the MFC has the ability to store charge during open circuit situations. Further studies using chronoamperometric analyses were carried out using isolated biofilms of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 developed in a MFC and placed in an electrochemistry chamber in the presence of an electron donor. The results of these studies indicate that the amount of excess current over the basal level released by the biofilm after periods of circuit disconnection is proportional to the duration of the disconnection period up to a maximum of approximately 60 min. The results indicate that biofilms of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 have the ability to store charge when oxidizing organic substrates in the absence of an external acceptor. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
|Journal||Environmental Science and Technology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2011|