Optimization of catholyte concentration and anolyte pHs in two chamber microbial electrolysis cells

Joo-Youn Nam, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The hydrogen production rate in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) using a non-buffered saline catholyte (NaCl) can be optimized through proper control of the initial anolyte pH and catholyte NaCl concentration. The highest hydrogen yield of 3.3 ± 0.4 mol H2/mole acetate and gas production rate of 2.2 ± 0.2 m3 H2/m3/d were achieved here with an initial anolyte pH = 9 and catholyte NaCl concentration of 98 mM. Further increases in the salt concentration substantially reduced the anolyte pH to as low as 4.6, resulting in reduced MEC performance due to pH inhibition of exoelectrogens. Cathodic hydrogen recovery was high (rcat > 90%) as hydrogen consumption by hydrogenotrophic methanogens was prevented by separating the anode and cathode chambers using a membrane. These results show that the MEC can be optimized for hydrogen production through proper choices in the concentration of a non-buffered saline catholyte and initial anolyte pH in two chamber MECs. Copyright © 2012, Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18622-18628
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This study was supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Award KUS-I1-003-13).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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