Wastewater and Mixed Microbial Consortia: a metastudy analysis of Optimal Microbial Fuel Cell configuration

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Jonathon Ryan
Hayden Ferral-Smith
Joshua Wilson


Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are an area of increasing research for use as an alternative energy source, due to their ability to produce electricity while simultaneously treating organic waste. This meta-study determines the optimal MFC configuration for electricity production, through consideration of the biocatalyst and substrate used. This study focuses primarily on comparing the use of mixed microbial consortia to pure strains of biocatalyst, and the use of waste water in contrast to simple substrates such as; acetate, glucose, and lactate. The use of algae as a substrate, and as a biocatalyst, is also investigated. In this study, only single and dual chamber MFCs are compared, and power density standardised to anode surface area (mW/m2) is used as a metric to facilitate the comparison of different experimental setups. This meta-study shows that dual chamber MFCs, using simple substrates, when catalysed by mixed culture biocatalysts, produce greater power densities, than algae, and complex substrates, with average power densities of 280, 70 and 30 (mW/m2) observed respectively. In single chamber MFC configurations, mixed culture biocatalysts have been observed to yield approximately double the power output of pure culture biocatalysts.

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