"In Vivo Polymerization (Hard-Wiring) of Bioanodes Enables Rapid Start-Up and Order-of-Magnitude Higher Power Density in a Microbial Battery"

Kristian L. Dubrawski: Sung-Geun Woo, Wei Chen, Xing Xie, Yi Cui, and Craig S. Criddle; Environmental Science & Technology, 10/29/20.

Additional Authors: Sung-Geun Woo, Wei Chen, Xing Xie, Yi Cui, and Craig S. Criddle


For microbial electrochemical technologies to be successful in the decentralized treatment of wastewater, steady-state power density must be improved and cost must be decreased. Here, we demonstrate in vivo polymerization (“hard-wiring”) of a microbial community to a growing layer of conductive polypyrrole on a sponge bioanode of a microbial battery, showing rapid biocatalytic current development (∼10 times higher than a sponge control after 4 h). Moreover, bioanodes with the polymerized inoculant maintain higher steady-state power density (∼2 times greater than the control after 28 days). We then evaluate the same hard-wired bioanodes in both a two-chamber microbial fuel cell and microbial battery with a solid-state NaFeIIFeIII(CN)6 (Prussian Blue) cathode, showing approximately an order-of-magnitude greater volumetric power density with the microbial battery. The result is a rapid start-up, low-cost (no membrane or platinum catalyst), and high volumetric power density system (independent of atmospheric oxygen) for harvesting energy and carbon from dilute organics in wastewater.

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