Energy from algae using microbial fuel cells

Authors

  • Sharon B. Velasquez-Orta,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE17RU, United Kingdom
    • School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE17RU, United Kingdom; telephone: +44-191-222-6415; fax: +44-191-222-6502.
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  • Tom P. Curtis,

    1. School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE17RU, United Kingdom
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  • Bruce E. Logan

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
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Abstract

Bioelectricity production from a phytoplankton, Chlorella vulgaris, and a macrophyte, Ulva lactuca was examined in single chamber microbial fuel cells (MFCs). MFCs were fed with the two algae (as powders), obtaining differences in energy recovery, degradation efficiency, and power densities. C. vulgaris produced more energy generation per substrate mass (2.5 kWh/kg), but U. lactuca was degraded more completely over a batch cycle (73 ± 1% COD). Maximum power densities obtained using either single cycle or multiple cycle methods were 0.98 W/m2 (277 W/m3) using C. vulgaris, and 0.76 W/m2 (215 W/m3) using U. lactuca. Polarization curves obtained using a common method of linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) overestimated maximum power densities at a scan rate of 1 mV/s. At 0.1 mV/s, however, the LSV polarization data was in better agreement with single- and multiple-cycle polarization curves. The fingerprints of microbial communities developed in reactors had only 11% similarity to inocula and clustered according to the type of bioprocess used. These results demonstrate that algae can in principle, be used as a renewable source of electricity production in MFCs. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009;103: 1068–1076. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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