University of Notre Dame
1 / 25

University of Notre Dame Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Department - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

University of Notre Dame Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Department. Microbial Fuel Cells for Renewable Energy - Characterization Study. Presented by:. Jesus M Garcia Figueroa University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'University of Notre Dame Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Department' - laura-kane

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript

University of Notre Dame

Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Department

Microbial Fuel Cells for Renewable Energy - Characterization Study

Presented by:

Jesus M Garcia Figueroa

University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

Mentor: Susan Dahlheimer Advisor: Dr. Robert Nerenberg P.E.


  • 90% of world’s energy is supplied by fossil fuels

    • Non-sustainable

    • Negative environmental impacts

  • Need sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy sources

  • Fuel cells are a promising technology

Hydrogen fuel cell
Hydrogen Fuel Cell








2H++ 2e-


½O2 + 2H++ 2e-

  • Chemical Reaction:

    • H2 2H+ + 2e-

    • ½ O2 + 2H+ + 2e- H2O

    • 2H2 + O2→ 2H2O

Alternative fuel cells
Alternative Fuel Cells

  • H2 is not readily available

  • Organic wastes also contain energy:

  • Common catalysts not effective

  • Bacteria can catalyze electron transfer to anode

  • Chemical Reaction:

    • Wastewater + H2O  nH+ + yCO2 + ne-

    • ½ O2 + 2H+ + 2e- H2O

    • Wastewater + O2→ 2H2O + CO2

Our experimental setup
Our Experimental Setup




O2 Pumping

R Load

Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM)


MFC Qualitative Characterization

Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Characterization

Cathode Chamber Characterization

Anode Chamber Characterization

Cathode characterization experiments
Cathode Characterization Experiments

Cathode Electrode Characterization

Cathode Oxidant

Electrode Thickness

Cathode Material

Surface Area Size

Surface Area Form

  • Original (Planar Electrode)

  • Rod Electrode

  • Original (Carbon)

  • Platinum

  • Original (6x10)cm2

  • Double

  • Half

  • Original (Thin)

  • Thick Electrode

  • Original (Oxygen)

  • Ferricyanide solution

Cathode characterization details
Cathode Characterization Details

  • Experiments included loads of 10 Ω, 100 Ω, 1 kΩ, 10 kΩ, 100 kΩ and 1 MΩ

  • A data logger recorded V

  • With V and R, current and power were calculated using Ohm’s (V = IR) and Watt’s (P = VI) Laws.

Proton exchange membrane characterization
Proton Exchange Membrane Characterization

Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Characterization

Nafion PEM

Ultrex PEM

Pem characterization details
PEM Characterization Details

  • Both chambers of the MFC contained a buffer solution, one chamber had no O2, other was saturated with O2.

  • Monitored O2 diffusion across two membranes with a dissolved O2 probe.

  • Compared how O2 concentration changed as a function of time for two membranes.

Anode chamber characterization
Anode Chamber Characterization

Anode and Anode Electrode Characterization

Attached Bacteria

Suspended Bacteria

Anode characterization details
Anode Characterization Details

  • Anode with biofilm was removed from operating MFC and placed in new MFC.

  • Fresh electrode placed in operating MFC with suspended growth

  • Compared the two systems.

General results and discussion
General Results and Discussion

  • Open circuit voltage was not stable in all experiments.

  • Higher resistances resulted in unstable voltages, therefore the mid-range resistance of 10K Ohms is used for comparisons as it resulted in large power production in all experiments.

  • Voltage and current characterization show consistence with power characterization for all experimental comparison.

Cathode results
Cathode Results

  • Size: Double surface area better than half better than original.

  • Thickness: Thin is ~1.25x better than thick electrode.

  • Surface Area Form: Rod increased power ~1.1x greater the planar electrode surface.

  • Material: Pt electrode increased power ~5.5x.

  • Oxidant: Performance with ferricyanide ~12.6x better than with oxygen.


  • Cathode parameters affect power production

  • Ultrex has lower O2 diffusion than Nafion

  • Both attached and suspended growth contribute to electron transfer

  • MFC technology a promising alternative energy source

Future work
Future Work

  • Make Anode MFC Experiments (such like Glucose and wastewater instead as a acetate feed) and more.

  • See other things such as bacteria growth and PEM Oxygen and Hydrogen diffusion coefficients.

  • Try to discover and explain how MFC Single Chamber works.


  • Thanks for:

    • Susan Dahlheimer, Dr. Roberto Nerenberg P.E. and his Graduate students

    • Dr. Valli Sarveswaran, Jennifer Forsythe and EMSI-REU Program

    • University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

      -Dr. Jose A. Colucci Rios P.E.

      -Monica Ospinal Jimenez

      -Juan Carlos Flores

    • Bryan Anderson