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Title: Optimization of soil microbial fuel cell for sustainable bio‑electricity production
Other Titles: combined effects of electrode material, electrode spacing, and substrate feeding frequency on power generation and microbial community diversity
Authors: Simeon, Meshack Imologie
Alfons, Weig
Freitag, Ruth
Keywords: Sustainable bio-electricity
Soil microbial fuel cell
Electrode spacing
Issue Date: 16-Nov-2022
Publisher: Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts
Citation: Simeon, I.M., Weig, A. & Freitag, R. Optimization of soil microbial fuel cell for sustainable bio-electricity production: combined effects of electrode material, electrode spacing, and substrate feeding frequency on power generation and microbial community diversity. Biotechnol Biofuels 15, 124 (2022).
Abstract: Background: Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are among the leading research topics in the field of alternative energy sources due to their multifunctional potential. However, their low bio-energy production rate and unstable performance limit their application in the real world. Therefore, optimization is needed to deploy MFCs beyond laboratory-scale experiments. In this study, we investigated the combined influence of electrode material (EM), electrode spacing (ES), and substrate feeding interval (SFI) on microbial community diversity and the electrochemical behavior of a soil MFC (S-MFC) for sustainable bio-electricity generation. Results: Two EMs (carbon felt (CF) and stainless steel/epoxy/carbon black composite (SEC)) were tested in an S-MFC under three levels of ES (2, 4, and 8 cm) and SFI (4, 6, and 8 days). After 30 days of operation, all MFCs achieved open-circuit voltage in the range of 782 + 12.2 mV regardless of the treatment. However, the maximum power of the SEC–MFC was 3.6 times higher than that of the CF–MFC under the same experimental conditions. The best solution, based on the interactive influence of the two discrete variables, was obtained with SEC at an ES of 4.31 cm and an SFI of 7.4 days during an operating period of 66 days. Analysis of the experimental treatment effects of the variables revealed the order SFI < ES < EM, indicating that EM is the most influential factor affecting the performance of S-MFC. The performance of S-MFC at a given ES value was found to be dependent on the levels of SFI with the SEC electrode, but this interactive influence was found to be insignificant with the CF electrode. The microbial bioinformatic analysis of the samples from the S-MFCs revealed that both electrodes (SEC and CF) supported the robust metabolism of electroactive microbes with similar morphological and compositional characteristics, independent of ES and SFI. The complex microbial community showed significant compositional changes at the anode and cathode over time. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated that the performance of S-MFC depends mainly on the electrode materials and not on the diversity of the constituent microbial communities. The performance of S-MFCs can be improved using electrode materials with pseudocapacitive properties and a larger surface area, instead of using unmodified CF electrodes commonly used in S-MFC systems.
Appears in Collections:Agric. and Bioresources Engineering

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