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Bioresour Technol. 2007 Sep;98(13):2568-77. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Electricity generation and microbial community analysis of alcohol powered microbial fuel cells.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Two different microbial fuel cell (MFC) configurations were investigated for electricity production from ethanol and methanol: a two-chambered, aqueous-cathode MFC; and a single-chamber direct-air cathode MFC. Electricity was generated in the two-chamber system at a maximum power density typical of this system (40+/-2 mW/m2) and a Coulombic efficiency (CE) ranging from 42% to 61% using ethanol. When bacteria were transferred into a single-chamber MFC known to produce higher power densities with different substrates, the maximum power density increased to 488+/-12 mW/m2 (CE = 10%) with ethanol. The voltage generated exhibited saturation kinetics as a function of ethanol concentration in the two-chambered MFC, with a half-saturation constant (Ks) of 4.86 mM. Methanol was also examined as a possible substrate, but it did not result in appreciable electricity generation. Analysis of the anode biofilm and suspension from a two-chamber MFC with ethanol using 16S rDNA-based techniques indicated that bacteria with sequences similar to Proteobacterium Core-1 (33.3% of clone library sequences), Azoarcus sp. (17.4%), and Desulfuromonas sp. M76 (15.9%) were significant members of the anode chamber community. These results indicate that ethanol can be used for sustained electricity generation at room temperature using bacteria on the anode in a MFC.

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