Energy production and sanitation improvement using microbial fuel cells

Ieropoulos, I., Greenman, J., Lewis, D. and Knoop, O. (2013) Energy production and sanitation improvement using microbial fuel cells. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. ISSN 2043-9083 Available from:

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This study builds on the previous work of urine utilisation and uses small scale microbial fuel cells (MFCs), working both as individual units in cascade or collectively as a stack, to utilise artificial urine. Artificial urine was prepared at concentrations typically found in real human urine with peptone employed as a surrogate proteinacious component. MFCs were constructed from Nanocure® polymer using rapid prototype technology. The anode and cathode electrodes were made of 15 cm2 carbon veil, folded down to fit in the 1 mL chambers. A total of eight MFCs were inoculated using activated anaerobic sludge; after 17 days of fed batch mode they were switched to continuous flow, initially at 0.09 mL/h and subsequently at 0.43 mL/h, resulting in HRT of 12.69 minutes/MFC. MFCs showed stable performance following the maturing period and produced, under polarisation experiments, peak power levels of 117 μW, corresponding to 962.94 W/m3. Continuous flow experiments data showed higher power production, increasing with the concentration of the carbon/energy source within artificial urine. The work demonstrates that artificial urine of varying composition can be successfully utilised for the production of energy and concomitant cleanup of organic waste. Finally, the small-scale MFCs were configured into a stack and directly energised practical applications.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:microbial fuel cells, practical application, sanitation, urine, waste utilisation
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics
ID Code:20096
Deposited By: Professor I. Ieropoulos
Deposited On:29 May 2013 14:45
Last Modified:08 Nov 2017 17:35

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