Comprehensive characterization of a cost-effective microbial fuel cell with Pt-free catalyst cathode and slip-casted ceramic membrane

J.Rodríguez, L.Mais, R.Campana, L.Piroddia, M.Mascia, J.Gurauskis, A.Vacca, S.Palmas, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2021-02)

This work reports a new procedure for low-cost Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) manufacture, based on the optimization of the most expensive MFC components: separator and cathode. For the first time, tubular MFC clay separators were fabricated by slip-casting, which allowed to reach the lowest thickness reported to date (1.55 mm), with a minimum cost (0.43 €·m−2). On the other hand, a novel cathode was fabricated by using commercial CuO based catalyst and Carbon Mesh (CM). The new cathode showed a power density of 110 mW m−2, more than 40% higher than other Cu based cathodes for Ceramic-MFCs (C-MFCs) studied in the literature. The proposed cell was operated for more than 6 months, with a power reduction of 29.4%, contrasting with Pt-cathodes (deactivation of almost 50% during the first month). A deep economic analysis showed a cost of 0.51 €/cell when energetic optimization and a semi-industrial production were considered, one of the lowest for C-MFCs ever reported.

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