Effect of nitrogen addition on the performance of microbial fuel cell anodes

Tomonori Saito, Maha Mehanna, Xin Wang, Roland D. Cusick, Yujie Feng, Michael A. Hickner, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Carbon cloth anodes were modified with 4(N,N-dimethylamino)benzene diazonium tetrafluoroborate to increase nitrogen-containing functional groups at the anode surface in order to test whether the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) could be improved by controllably modifying the anode surface chemistry. Anodes with the lowest extent of functionalization, based on a nitrogen/carbon ratio of 0.7 as measured by XPS, achieved the highest power density of 938mW/m2. This power density was 24% greater than an untreated anode, and similar to that obtained with an ammonia gas treatment previously shown to increase power. Increasing the nitrogen/carbon ratio to 3.8, however, decreased the power density to 707mW/m2. These results demonstrate that a small amount of nitrogen functionalization on the carbon cloth material is sufficient to enhance MFC performance, likely as a result of promoting bacterial adhesion to the surface without adversely affecting microbial viability or electron transfer to the surface. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-398
Number of pages4
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-003-I3
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (CBET-08,03,137), Award KUS-11-003-I3 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and the National Creative Research Groups of China (No. 50821002). We thank Dr. Timothy B. Tighe for helping XPS analysis. We also thank Mr. David W. Jones and Ms. Ellen M. Bingham for technical support for this research.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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