Treatment of carbon fiber brush anodes for improving power generation in air–cathode microbial fuel cells

Yujie Feng, Qiao Yang, Xin Wang, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

484 Scopus citations


Carbon brush electrodes have been used to provide high surface areas for bacterial growth and high power densities in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). A high-temperature ammonia gas treatment has been used to enhance power generation, but less energy-intensive methods are needed for treating these electrodes in practice. Three different treatment methods are examined here for enhancing power generation of carbon fiber brushes: acid soaking (CF-A), heating (CF-H), and a combination of both processes (CF-AH). The combined heat and acid treatment improve power production to 1370 mW m-2, which is 34% larger than the untreated control (CF-C, 1020 mW m-2). This power density is 25% higher than using only acid treatment (1100 mW m-2) and 7% higher than that using only heat treatment (1280 mW m-2). XPS analysis of the treated and untreated anode materials indicates that power increases are related to higher N1s/C1s ratios and a lower C-O composition. These findings demonstrate efficient and simple methods for improving power generation using graphite fiber brushes, and provide insight into reasons for improving performance that may help to further increase power through other graphite fiber modifications. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1844
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors thank the support of National Science Foundation of China (No. 50638020), the National Creative Research Groups of China (50821002), and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (KUS-I1-003-13). The authors also thank for the State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource & Environment for the BET analysis and financial support (2008TS04), and Prof. Mingren Sun for the XPS analysis.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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