High rate membrane-less microbial electrolysis cell for continuous hydrogen production

Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, 6100 Royalmount Avenue, Montreal, QC H2P 2R2, Canada; Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, National Research Council of Canada, 4250 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1W5, Canada
International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (Impact Factor: 2.93). 01/2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2008.11.003

ABSTRACT This study demonstrates hydrogen production in a membrane-less continuous flow microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) with a gas-phase cathode. The MEC used a carbon felt anode and a gas diffusion cathode with a Pt loading of 0.5 mg cm−2. No proton exchange membrane (PEM) was used in the setup. Instead, the electrodes were separated by a J-cloth. The absence of a PEM as well as a short distance maintained between the electrodes (0.3 mm) resulted in a low internal resistance of 19 Ω. Due to an improved design, the volumetric hydrogen production rate reached 6.3 LSTP d−1. In spite of the PEM absence, methane concentration in the gas collection chamber was below 2.1% and the presence of hydrogen in the anodic chamber was never observed.

1 Bookmark
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Breaking through the “fermentation barrier” bottleneck of conventional biological hydrogen production technology, achieving the depth use of carbon source, and obtaining the higher hydrogen production, bioelectrocatalysis technology assisted fermentation process has vast prospective of applications. The main technical route is the microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). Based on the cutting-edge researches carried out by worldwide scholars, this paper focuses on the comprehensive discussion of MEC design, substrate selection, electrode materials, performance optimization, microbiology, as well as the main problems of the corresponding research. The review also presents recommendations and solutions accordingly. Finally, the prospects of microbial electrocatalysis assisted technology in the field of environmental pollution control and energy recovery application have been disclosed.
    Desalination and water treatment 08/2014; 52. · 0.99 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Microbial electrolysis represents a new approach for harnessing the energy contained in the organic matter of wastewater. However, before this approach can be implemented on a practical basis, a cost-effective manufacturing process for microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) must be developed. The objective of this study is to estimate an acceptable purchase cost of an MEC reactor for a domestic wastewater treatment plant. We estimate that for a full-scale MEC operating at a current density of 5 A ma−2 (amperes per square meter of anode) and an energy consumption of 0.9 kWh kg-COD−1 (kilowatt-hour per kg of removed chemical oxygen demand (COD)), a cost of €1220 ma−3 (euro per m3 of anodic chamber) can be established as a target purchase cost at which a break-even point is reached after 7 years.
    International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 12/2012; 37(24):18641 - 18653. · 2.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bioenergy is a renewable energy that plays an indispensable role in meeting today's ever increasing energy needs. Unlike biofuels, microbial fuel cells (MFCs) convert energy harvested from redox reactions directly into bioelectricity. MFCs can utilize low-grade organic carbons (fuels) in waste streams. The oxidation of the fuel molecules requires biofilm catalysis. In recent years, MFCs have also been used in the electrolysis mode to produce bioproducts in laboratory tests. MFCs research has intensified in the past decade and the maximum MFCs power density output has been increased greatly and many types of waste streams have been tested. However, new breakthroughs are needed for MFCs to be practical in wastewater treatment and power generation beyond powering small sensor devices. To reduce capital and operational costs, simple and robust membrane-less MFCs reactors are desired, but these reactors require highly efficient biofilms. Newly discovered conductive cell aggregates, improved electron transport through hyperpilation via mutation or genetic recombination and other advances in biofilm engineering present opportunities. This review is an update on the recent advances on MFCs designs and operations. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry
    Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology 04/2013; 88(4). · 2.50 Impact Factor


Available from