Ecology, Environment and Conservation Paper

Vol 24, Feb. Suppl. Issue 2018; Page No.(327-334)

A MEMBRANE LAYERED AIR-CATHODE USING CATIONIC POLYMER MATERIALS FOR INCREASED POWER GENERATION IN MICROBIAL FUEL CELLS

Pournan Letchoumanane, Ayyaru Sivasankaran, Sangeetha Dharmalingam and Amal Raj Stanislausa

Abstract

Low cost and high-efficiency cathodes are essential for microbial fuel cells(MFCs) to meet scale up and sustainable performance requirements. Polymer separators greatly influence the performance of MFCs in waste-water treatment and power generation despite cost and maintenance issues. A simple integrated cathode was developed by layering the cathode with the membrane, resulting in a Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL). We compared the power generation efficiency of MFCs with membrane layered configuration (MLC)and membrane based cathode configuration to study the effect of membrane material using impedance spectroscopy. Sulfonated polyether ether ketone (SPEEK) and sulfonated poly styrene ethylene butylenes poly styrene (SPSEBS) air-cathodes were prepared by layering cathode as a substitute for the Nafion membrane in single chamber microbial fuel cell (SCMFC) for the first time. SPEEK-MLC achieved a maximum power density of 145.7 ± 4 mWm-2, which was comparable to that of SPEEK Membrane (122.6 ± 2 mWm-2). EIS studies showed that the SPEEK-MLC had lower ohmic resistance (12.7 Ω) than Membrane based SCMFCs. Further, MLC based air-cathodes showed acceptable performance and structural integrity while membrane deformation was observed during multiple cycles of fed-batch operation of the membrane based MFCs. The results show that layered cathodes can significantly improve MFC air-cathode performance and reduce material usage.

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