Carbon nanotube-coated macroporous sponge for microbial fuel cell electrodes

Xing Xie, Meng Ye, Liangbing Hu, Nian Liu, James R. McDonough, Wei Chen, Husam N. Alshareef, Craig S. Criddle, Yi Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

308 Scopus citations


The materials that are used to make electrodes and their internal structures significantly affect microbial fuel cell (MFC) performance. In this study, we describe a carbon nanotube (CNT)-sponge composite prepared by coating a sponge with CNTs. Compared to the CNT-coated textile electrodes evaluated in prior studies, CNT-sponge electrodes had lower internal resistance, greater stability, more tunable and uniform macroporous structure (pores up to 1 mm in diameter), and improved mechanical properties. The CNT-sponge composite also provided a three-dimensional scaffold that was favorable for microbial colonization and catalytic decoration. Using a batch-fed H-shaped MFC outfitted with CNT-sponge electrodes, an areal power density of 1.24 W m -2 was achieved when treating domestic wastewater. The maximum volumetric power density of a continuously fed plate-shaped MFC was 182 W m -3. To our knowledge, these are the highest values obtained to date for MFCs fed domestic wastewater: 2.5 times the previously reported maximum areal power density and 12 times the previously reported maximum volumetric power density. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5265-5270
Number of pages6
JournalEnergy Environ. Sci.
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-001-12
Acknowledgements: We thank Karin North and Tracy Ingebrigtsen for experimental assistance. This work was partially supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Investigator Award (No. KUS-11-001-12). JM acknowledges support from the National Defense Science and Engineering and National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. XX acknowledge the support from the Stanford Graduate Fellowship.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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