Microbial Fuel Cell: A fascinating technology and interdisciplinary challenge

Uwe Schröder 

TU Braunschweig, Institiute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, Braunschweig 38106, Germany

Abstract

The globally growing energy demand and environmental issues like the green house effect require the development of clean and renewable energy sources. At the same time, increasing amounts of energy are consumed for the treatment of anthropogenic waste products like sewage. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) produce electricity by utilising the metabolism of living microorganisms to catalyse the oxidation of organic or inorganic substrates for electricity production. By doing that they offer access to a direct generation of electricity from low-value biomass, such as agricultural wastes and sewage. This potential combination of waste treatment and power generation has recently led to a tremendously growing interest in microbial fuel cells and to substantial research progress.

The performance of a microbial fuel cell (MFC) depends on a complex system of parameters. Apart from operational variables like the anode or fuel cell design, it is mainly the paths and mechanisms of the bioelectrochemical energy conversion that decisively determine the MFC power and energy output. Here, the electron transfer from the microbial cell to the fuel cell anode, as a process that links microbiology and electrochemistry, represents a key factor that defines the theoretical limits of the energy conversion.

This lecture will provide an introduction into the principles of microbial bioelectrochemical fuel cells and related (microbial) bioelectrochemical systems. Recent approaches and developments will be discussed.

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Presentation: Tutorial lectore at SMCBS'2011 International Workshop, by Uwe Schröder
See On-line Journal of SMCBS'2011 International Workshop

Submitted: 2011-09-09 16:36
Revised:   2011-09-09 16:36
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