Improving startup performance with carbon mesh anodes in separator electrode assembly microbial fuel cells

Fang Zhang, Xue Xia, Yong Luo, Dan Sun, Douglas F. Call, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


In a separator electrode assembly microbial fuel cell, oxygen crossover from the cathode inhibits current generation by exoelectrogenic bacteria, resulting in poor reactor startup and performance. To determine the best approach for improving startup performance, the effect of acclimation to a low set potential (-0.2V, versus standard hydrogen electrode) was compared to startup at a higher potential (+0.2V) or no set potential, and inoculation with wastewater or pre-acclimated cultures. Anodes acclimated to -0.2V produced the highest power of 1330±60mWm-2 for these different anode conditions, but unacclimated wastewater inocula produced inconsistent results despite the use of this set potential. By inoculating reactors with transferred cell suspensions, however, startup time was reduced and high power was consistently produced. These results show that pre-acclimation at -0.2V consistently improves power production compared to use of a more positive potential or the lack of a set potential. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors thank D.W. Jones for help with the analytical measurements, and Dr. Xiuping Zhu and Dr. Justin Tokash for useful discussions. This research was supported by Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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