A microbial fuel cell using manganese oxide oxygen reduction catalysts

I. Roche, K. Katuri, K. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a potential method for enhanced water and waste treatment, which offer the additional benefit of energy generation. Manganese oxide was prepared by a simple chemical oxidation using potassium permanganate. Carbon-supported manganese oxide nanoparticles were successfully characterised as cathode materials for MFCs. The manganese oxide particles when used in a two-chamber MFC, using inoculum from an anaerobically digested sewage sludge, were found to exhibit similar oxygen reduction performance to that in separate electrochemical tests. MFC tests were conducted in a simple two chamber cell using aqueous air-saturated catholytes separated from the anode chamber by a Nafion membrane. MFC peak power densities were ca. 161 mW m-2 for MnO x /C compared to 193 mW m-2 for a benchmark Pt/C, in neutral solution at room temperature. The catalyst materials demonstrated good stability in the 7.0-10.0 pH range. Theoretical (IR free) peak power densities were 937 mW m-2 for MnO x /C compared with 1037 mW m -2 for Pt/C in the same experimental conditions: showing the MFCs performances can easily be improved by using more favourable conditions (more conductive electrolyte, improved cathode catalyst etc.). Our studies indicated that the use of our low cost MnO x /C catalysts is of potential interest for the future application of MFC systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Electrochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrocatalysis
  • Manganese oxides
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Mixed microbial innoculum
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • Waste water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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