Autonomous energy harvesting and prevention of cell reversal in MFC stacks

Papaharalabos, G., Stinchcombe, A., Horsfield, I., Melhuish, C., Greenman, J. and Ieropoulos, I. (2017) Autonomous energy harvesting and prevention of cell reversal in MFC stacks. Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 164 (3). H3047-H3051. ISSN 0013-4651 Available from:

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.


Publisher's URL:


This study presents a novel method for avoiding cell reversal whilst optimising energy harvesting from stacked Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) by dynamically reconfiguring the electrical connections between them. The sequential changing of in-parallel and in-series electrical connections in an 8-MFC stack resulted in energy being transferred twice as fast into a super-capacitor avoiding cell reversal in MFCs as opposed to a fixed in-series configuration. This approach, allows for a lower internal resistance state within the stack compared to a fixed electrical configuration. This is critical in the initial stages of energy extraction from MFCs connected electrically in-series where the impedance of the capacitor is drawing high levels of current and cell reversals are likely to occur and hinder performance. Automation of electrical connections doubled the extracted power from the stack whilst halving the charging times without any cell reversal occurrence. The electrical reconfiguring of MFCs was performed by a USB-powered switch-box that modulated the stack’s connections. This lead to the development of an energy autonomous switch-box circuitry powered solely by the MFC stack with negligible impact on the overall energy harvesting efficiency (i.e. above 90%). © The Author(s) 2016. Published by ECS. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (CC BY,, which permits unrestricted reuse of the work in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. [DOI: 10.1149/2.0081703jes] All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:cell reversal prevention, dynamic stack reconfiguration, MFC stack, optimised capacitor, charging urine as a fuel, MFC, microbial fuel cell, bioenergy, bio-energy, anodophile
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics
ID Code:30580
Deposited By: J.-M. Maheu
Deposited On:19 Dec 2016 14:52
Last Modified:04 Mar 2018 01:53

Request a change to this item

Total Document Downloads in Past 12 Months

Document Downloads

Total Document Downloads

More statistics for this item...