Binder-free nitrogen-doped graphene catalyst aircathodes for microbial fuel cells

Qiuying Wang, Xiaoyuan Zhang, Ruitao Lv, Xi Chen, Boru Xue, Peng Liang, Xia Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Air-cathodes are a critical component for microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and need to have high catalytic performance for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). As an important two-dimensional material, graphene has been explored in various applications including ORR catalysts for MFCs. However, the reported graphene for MFC cathodes was usually small flakes/powders, which cannot be directly coated onto metal meshes without binders. Here, we report a binder-free nitrogen-doped graphene (NG) sheet in situ grown on nickel mesh as an efficient catalyst layer for MFC air-cathodes. By optimizing the growth parameters of NG, the maximum power density of MFCs based on NG can be boosted up to 1470 ± 80 mW m−2, which is 32% higher than that of the conventional Pt/C air-cathode. The optimized NG air-cathode has a low internal resistance (21 ± 3 Ω), only 20% of that of the Pt/C air-cathode. These results provide a proof-of-concept for the binder-free NG air-cathode as an alternative to the costly Pt cathode for MFCs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12387-12391
Number of pages5
Issue number32
StatePublished - Jun 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-05-26
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51408336), the Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51238004), the special fund of State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control (Grant No. 15Y02ESPCT), the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). R. L. acknowledges the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51372131), 973 program of China (No. 2014CB932401, 2015CB932500) and the Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program. We thank Prof. Bruce E. Logan at Penn State University for valuable comments and suggestions.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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