Power generation using an activated carbon and metal mesh cathode in a microbial fuel cell

Fang Zhang, Shaoan Cheng, Deepak Pant, Gilbert Van Bogaert, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

371 Scopus citations


An inexpensive activated carbon (AC) air cathode was developed as an alternative to a platinum-catalyzed electrode for oxygen reduction in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). AC was cold-pressed with a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) binder to form the cathode around a Ni mesh current collector. This cathode construction avoided the need for carbon cloth or a metal catalyst, and produced a cathode with high activity for oxygen reduction at typical MFC current densities. Tests with the AC cathode produced a maximum power density of 1220 mW/m2 (normalized to cathode projected surface area; 36 W/m3 based on liquid volume) compared to 1060 mW/m2 obtained by Pt catalyzed carbon cloth cathode. The Coulombic efficiency ranged from 15% to 55%. These findings show that AC is a cost-effective material for achieving useful rates of oxygen reduction in air cathode MFCs. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2177-2179
Number of pages3
JournalElectrochemistry Communications
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors thank D.W. Jones for help with the analytical measurements and M. Hazen for EDS analysis. This research was supported by Award KUS-11-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The research at VITO is supported by a Grant from Milieu en Energietechnologie InnovatiePlatform (Project M8463 - Sewage Plus).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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