A two-staged system to generate electricity in microbial fuel cells using methane

Jaewook Myung*, Pascal E. Saikaly, Bruce E. Logan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Methane is an abundant and inexpensive feedstock that is available as natural gas and renewable biogas. However, methane has not been regarded as a good substrate for microbial fuel cells (MFCs) due to low power densities. To increase power, a two-step strategy was used based on conversion of methane into methanol, followed by electricity generation using methanol as the substrate in the MFC. To produce methanol, a methane-oxidizing culture was grown in a high phosphate buffer resulting in the accumulation of 350 ± 42 mg/L of methanol. The methanol-fed MFC produced a maximum power density of 426 ± 17 mW/m2. It was also shown that the methanol-rich medium produced from the first step can directly be supplied to the MFCs, removing the need for purification of methanol. Analysis of the microbial community suggests that acetogens first converts methanol into acetate, which is then consumed by exoelectrogens for power generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-267
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Nov 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Pennsylvania State University .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Acetogens
  • Bioelectricity
  • MFC
  • Methane
  • Methanol
  • Methanotrophs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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