The importance of OH − transport through anion exchange membrane in microbial electrolysis cells

Yaoli Ye, Bruce Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In two-chamber microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) with anion exchange membranes (AEMs), a phosphate buffer solution (PBS) is typically used to avoid increases in catholyte pH as Nernst equation calculations indicate that high pHs adversely impact electrochemical performance. However, ion transport between the chambers will also impact performance, which is a factor not included in those calculations. To separate the impacts of pH and ion transport on MEC performance, a high molecular weight polymer buffer (PoB), which was retained in the catholyte due to its low AEM transport and cationic charge, was compared to PBS in MECs and abiotic electrochemical half cells (EHCs). In MECs, catholyte pH control was less important than ion transport. MEC tests using the PoB catholyte, which had a higher buffer capacity and thus maintained a lower catholye pH (
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2645-2653
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 11 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2015-SEED-2450-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by Award OSR-2015-SEED-2450-01 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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