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Scaling-Up Microbial Fuel Cells: Configuration and Potential Drop Phenomenon at Series Connection of Unit Cells in Shared Anolyte

Authors

  • Dr. Daehee Kim,

    1. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro (Oryong-dong), Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712 (Republic of Korea), Fax: (+82) 62-715-2434
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  • Junyeong An,

    1. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro (Oryong-dong), Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712 (Republic of Korea), Fax: (+82) 62-715-2434
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  • Bongkyu Kim,

    1. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro (Oryong-dong), Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712 (Republic of Korea), Fax: (+82) 62-715-2434
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  • Dr. Jae Kyung Jang,

    1. Energy and Environmental Engineering Division, National Institute of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, 150, Seodun-dong, Gwonseon-gu, Suwon 441-707 (Republic of Korea)
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  • Dr. Byung Hong Kim,

    1. Water Environment Research Centre, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, 39-1 Hawolgok-dong, Sungpook-gu, Seoul 136-791 (Republic of Korea)
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  • Prof. In Seop Chang

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro (Oryong-dong), Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712 (Republic of Korea), Fax: (+82) 62-715-2434
    • School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro (Oryong-dong), Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712 (Republic of Korea), Fax: (+82) 62-715-2434
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Abstract

To scale-up microbial fuel cells (MFCs), installing multiple unit cells in a common reactor has been proposed; however, there has been a serious potential drop when connecting unit cells in series. To determine the source of the loss, a basic stack-MFC (BS-MFC) has been devised, and the results show that the phenomenon is due to ions on the anode electrode traveling through the electrolyte to be reduced at the cathode connected in series. As calculated by means of the percentage potential drop, the degree of potential drop decreased with an increase in the unit-cell distance. When the distance was increased from 1 to 8 cm, the percentage potential drop in BS-MFC1 decreased from 46.76±0.90 to 45.08±0.70 % and in BS-MFC2 from 46.41±0.95 to 43.82±2.23 %. As the p-value of the t-test was lower than 0.05, the difference was considered significant; however, if the unit cells are installed far enough from each other to avoid the potential drop phenomenon, the system will be less dense, consequently reducing the ratio of electrode area per volume of anode compartment and decreasing the power density of the system. Finally, this study suggests design criteria for scaling-up MFC systems: Multiple-electrode-installed MFCs are modularized, and the unit cells are connected in series across the module (connecting each unit cell does not share the anolyte).

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