Alternate charging and discharging of capacitor to enhance the electron production of bioelectrochemical systems.
ABSTRACT A bioelectrochemical system (BES) can be operated in both "microbial fuel cell" (MFC) and "microbial electrolysis cell" (MEC) modes, in which power is delivered and invested respectively. To enhance the electric current production, a BES was operated in MFC mode first and a capacitor was used to collect power from the system. Then the charged capacitor discharged electrons to the system itself, switching into MEC mode. This alternate charging and discharging (ACD) mode helped the system produce 22-32% higher average current compared to an intermittent charging (IC) mode, in which the capacitor was first charged from an MFC and then discharged to a resistor, at 21.6 Ω external resistance, 3.3 F capacitance and 300 mV charging voltage. The effects of external resistance, capacitance and charging voltage on average current were studied. The average current reduced as the external resistance and charging voltage increased and was slightly affected by the capacitance. Acquisition of higher average current in the ACD mode was attributed to the shorter discharging time compared to the charging time, as well as a higher anode potential caused by discharging the capacitor. Results from circuit analysis and quantitatively calculation were consistent with the experimental observations.