A low cost poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene) (PVDF-HFP) phase inversion coating was developed as a cathode diffusion layer to enhance the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). A maximum power density of 1430 ± 90 mW m-2 was achieved at a PVDF-HFP loading of 4.4 mg cm-2 (4:1 polymer:carbon black), with activated carbon as the oxygen reduction cathode catalyst. This power density was 31% higher than that obtained with a more conventional platinum (Pt) catalyst on carbon cloth (Pt/C) cathode with a poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE) diffusion layer (1090 ± 30 mW m-2). The improved performance was due in part to a larger oxygen mass transfer coefficient of 3 × 10-3 cm s-1 for the PVDF-HFP coated cathode, compared to 1.7 × 10-3 cm s -1 for the carbon cloth/PTFE-based cathode. The diffusion layer was resistant to electrolyte leakage up to water column heights of 41 ± 0.5 cm (4.4 mg cm-2 loading of 4:1 polymer:carbon black) to 70 ± 5 cm (8.8 mg cm-2 loading of 4:1 polymer:carbon black). This new type of PVDF-HFP/carbon black diffusion layer could reduce the cost of manufacturing cathodes for MFCs. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): ER-2216, KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Project ER-2216, Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and a graduate scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to W. Y.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.