Long-term cathode performance and the microbial communities that develop in microbial fuel cells fed different fermentation endproducts

Patrick D. Kiely, Geoffrey Rader, John M. Regan, Bruce E. Logan

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185 Scopus citations


To better understand how cathode performance and substrates affected communities that evolved in these reactors over long periods of time, microbial fuel cells were operated for more than 1year with individual endproducts of lignocellulose fermentation (acetic acid, formic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid, or ethanol). Large variations in reactor performance were primarily due to the specific substrates, with power densities ranging from 835±21 to 62±1mW/m3. Cathodes performance degraded over time, as shown by an increase in power of up to 26% when the cathode biofilm was removed, and 118% using new cathodes. Communities that developed on the anodes included exoelectrogenic families, such as Rhodobacteraceae, Geobacteraceae, and Peptococcaceae, with the Deltaproteobacteria dominating most reactors. Pelobacter propionicus was the predominant member in reactors fed acetic acid, and it was abundant in several other MFCs. These results provide valuable insights into the effects of long-term MFC operation on reactor performance. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

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