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Bioelectrochemistry. 2019 Apr;126:146-155. doi: 10.1016/j.bioelechem.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Regenerated silk fibroin membranes as separators for transparent microbial fuel cells.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Artificial Biology, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico Fabio Ferrari, Polo B, Via Sommarive 9, 38123 Povo TN, Italy; Faculty of Chemistry, Wrocław University of Technology, Wyb. Wyspiańskiego 27, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland. Electronic address: grzegorz.pasternak@pwr.edu.pl.
2
Department of Industrial Engineering and BIOtech Research Center, University of Trento, via Sommarive 9, 38123 Trento, Italy.
3
Laboratory for Artificial Biology, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico Fabio Ferrari, Polo B, Via Sommarive 9, 38123 Povo TN, Italy; Engineering School of Lorena, University of São Paulo, 12-602-810 Lorena, SP, Brazil.
4
Laboratory for Artificial Biology, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico Fabio Ferrari, Polo B, Via Sommarive 9, 38123 Povo TN, Italy.
5
Laboratory for Artificial Biology, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico Fabio Ferrari, Polo B, Via Sommarive 9, 38123 Povo TN, Italy; Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of New Mexico, USA.

Abstract

In recent years novel applications of bioelectrochemical systems are exemplified by phototrophic biocathodes, biocompatible enzymatic fuel cells and biodegradable microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Herein, transparent silk fibroin membranes (SFM) with various fibroin content (2%, 4% and 8%) were synthesised and employed as separators in MFCs and compared with standard cation exchange membranes (CEM) as a control. The highest real-time power performance of thin-film SFM was reached by 2%-SFM separators: 25.7 ± 7.4 μW, which corresponds to 68% of the performance of the CEM separators (37.7 ± 3.1 μW). Similarly, 2%-SFM revealed the highest coulombic efficiency of 6.65 ± 1.90%, 74% of the CEM efficiency. Current for 2%-SFM reached 0.25 ± 0.03 mA (86% of CEM control). Decrease of power output was observed after 23 days for 8% and 4% and was a consequence of deterioration of SFMs, determined by physical, chemical and biological studies. This is the first time that economical and transparent silk fibroin polymers were successfully employed in MFCs.

KEYWORDS:

Bioelectrochemical system; Biopolymer; MFC; Membrane; Sustainable; Transparent

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