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Microbial Fuel Cells

Bruce E. Logan

ISBN: 978-0-470-23948-3 January 2008 216 Pages


The theory, design, construction, and operation of microbial fuel cells

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), devices in which bacteria create electrical power by oxidizing simple compounds such as glucose or complex organic matter in wastewater, represent a new and promising approach for generating power. Not only do MFCs clean wastewater, but they also convert organics in these wastewaters into usable energy. Given the world's limited supply of fossil fuels and fossil fuels' impact on climate change, MFC technology's ability to create renewable, carbon-neutral energy has generated tremendous interest around the world.

This timely book is the first dedicated to MFCs. It not only serves as an introduction to the theory underlying the development and functioning of MFCs, it also serves as a manual for ongoing research. In addition, author Bruce Logan, a leading pioneer in MFC research and development, provides practical guidance for the effective design and operation of MFCs based on his own firsthand experience.

This reference covers everything you need to fully understand MFCs, including:

Key topics such as voltage and power generation, MFC materials and architecture, mass transfer to bacteria and biofilms, bioreactor design, and fundamentals of electron transfer

Applications across a wide variety of scales, from power generation in the laboratory to approaches for using MFCs for wastewater treatment

The role of MFCs in the climate change debate

Detailed illustrations of bacterial and electrochemical concepts

Charts, graphs, and tables summarizing key design and operation variables

Practice problems and step-by-step examples

Microbial Fuel Cells, with its easy-to-follow explanations, is recommended as both a textbook for students and professionals interested in entering the field and as a complete reference for more experienced practitioners.

1. Introduction.

1.1. Energy needs.

1.2. Energy and the challenge of global climate change.

1.3. Bioelectricity generation using a microbial fuel cell --the process of electrogenesis.

1.4. MFCs and energy sustainability of the water infrastructure.

1.5. MFC technologies for wastewater treatment.

1.6. Renewable energy generation using MFCs.

1.7. Other applications of MFC technologies.

2. Exoelectrogens.

2.1. Introduction.

2.2. Mechanisms of electron transfer.

2.3. MFC studies using known exoelectrogenic strains.

2.4. Community analysis.

2.5. MFCs as tools for studying exoelectrogens.

3. Voltage generation.

3.1. Voltage and current.

3.2. Maximum voltages based on thermodynamic relationships.

3.3. Anode potentials and enzyme potentials.

3.4. Role of enzymes versus communities in setting anode potentials.

3.5. Voltage generation by fermentative bacteria?

4. Power generation.

4.1. Calculating power.

4.2. Coulombic and energy efficiency.

4.3. Polarization and power density curves.

4.4. Measuring internal resistance.

4.5. Chemical and electrochemical analysis of reactors.

5. Materials.

5.1. Finding low-cost, highly efficient materials.

5.2. Anode materials.

5.3. Membranes and separators (and chemical transport through them).

5.4. Cathode materials.

5.5. Long term stability of different materials.

6. Architecture.

6.1. General requirements.

6.2. Air-cathode MFCs.

6.3. Aqueous cathodes using dissolved oxygen.

6.4. Two chamber reactors with soluble catholytes or poised potentials.

6.5. Tubular packed bed reactors.

6.6. Stacked MFCs.

6.7. Metal catholytes.

6.8. Biohydrogen MFCs.

6.9. Towards a scaleable MFC architecture.

7. Kinetics and Mass transfer.

7.1. Kinetic or mass transfer models?

7.2. Boundaries on rate constants and bacterial characteristics.

7.3. Maximum power from a monolayer of bacteria.

7.4. Maximum rate of mass transfer to a biofilm.

7.5. Mass transfer per reactor volume.

8. MECs for hydrogen production.

8.1. Principle of operation.

8.2. MEC systems.

8.3. Hydrogen yields.

8.4. Hydrogen recovery.

8.5. Energy recovery.

8.6. Hydrogen losses.

8.7. Differences between the MEC and MFC systems.

9. MFCs for Wastewater Treatment.

9.1. Process trains for WWTPs.

9.2. Replacement of the biological treatment reactor with an MFC.

9.3. Energy balances for WWTPs.

9.4. Implications for reduced sludge generation.

9.5. Nutrient removal.

9.6. Electrogenesis versus methanogensis.

10. Other MFC Technologies.

10.1. Different applications for MFC-based technologies.

10.2. Sediment MFCs.

10.3. Enhanced sediment MFCs.

10.4. Bioremediation using MFC technologies.

11. Fun!

11.1 MFCs for new scientists and inventors.

11.2 Choosing your inoculum and media.

11.3 MFC materials: electrodes and membranes.

11.4 MFC architectures that are easy to build.

11.5 MFC reactors

11.6 Operation and assessment of MFCs.

12. Outlook.

12.1 MFCs yesterday and today.

12.2 Challenges for bringing MFCs to commercialization.

12.3 Accomplishments and outlook.