Three-Dimensional Carbon Nanotube−Textile Anode for High-Performance Microbial Fuel Cells

Xing Xie, Liangbing Hu, Mauro Pasta, George F. Wells, Desheng Kong, Craig S. Criddle, Yi Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

397 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) harness the metabolism of microorganisms, converting chemical energy into electrical energy. Anode performance is an important factor limiting the power density of MFCs for practical application. Improving the anode design is thus important for enhancing the MFC performance, but only a little development has been reported. Here, we describe a biocompatible, highly conductive, two-scale porous anode fabricated from a carbon nanotube-textile (CNT-textile) composite for high-performance MFCs. The macroscale porous structure of the intertwined CNT-textile fibers creates an open 3D space for efficient substrate transport and internal colonization by a diverse microflora, resulting in a 10-fold-larger anolyte-biofilm-anode interfacial area than the projective surface area of the CNT-textile. The conformally coated microscale porous CNT layer displays strong interaction with the microbial biofilm, facilitating electron transfer from exoelectrogens to the CNT-textile anode. An MFC equipped with a CNT-textile anode has a 10-fold-lower charge-transfer resistance and achieves considerably better performance than one equipped with a traditional carbon cloth anode: the maximum current density is 157% higher, the maximum power density is 68% higher, and the energy recovery is 141% greater. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-001-12
Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Lydia-Marie Joubert and Brad Eggleston for experimental assistance. This work was made possible by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Investigator Award (no. KUS-11-001-12). X.X. acknowledge support From the Stanford Graduate Fellowship.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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