Cathodic oxygen reduction catalyzed by bacteria in microbial fuel cells

Rabaey, Korneel, Read, Suzanne T, Clauwaert, Peter, Freguia, Stefano, Bond, Philip L., Blackall, Linda L. and Keller, Jurg (2008) Cathodic oxygen reduction catalyzed by bacteria in microbial fuel cells. The ISME Journal, 2 5: 519-527. doi:10.1038/ismej.2008.1

Author Rabaey, Korneel
Read, Suzanne T
Clauwaert, Peter
Freguia, Stefano
Bond, Philip L.
Blackall, Linda L.
Keller, Jurg
Title Cathodic oxygen reduction catalyzed by bacteria in microbial fuel cells
Journal name The ISME Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1751-7362
Publication date 2008
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1038/ismej.2008.1
Volume 2
Issue 5
Start page 519
End page 527
Total pages 9
Place of publication New York
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subject C1
969999 Environment not elsewhere classified
060504 Microbial Ecology
Formatted abstract
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have the potential to combine wastewater treatment efficiency with energetic efficiency. One of the major impediments to MFC implementation is the operation of the cathode compartment, as it employs environmentally unfriendly catalysts such as platinum. As recently shown, bacteria can facilitate sustainable and cost-effective cathode catalysis for nitrate and also oxygen. Here we describe a carbon cathode open to the air, on which attached bacteria catalyzed oxygen reduction. The bacteria present were able to reduce oxygen as the ultimate electron acceptor using electrons provided by the solid-phase cathode. Current densities of up to 2.2 A m- 2 cathode projected surface were obtained (0.303±0.017 W m- 2, 15 W m- 3 total reactor volume). The cathodic microbial community was dominated by Sphingobacterium, Acinetobacter and Acidovorax sp., according to 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis. Isolates of Sphingobacterium sp. and Acinetobacter sp. were obtained using H2/O2 mixtures. Some of the pure culture isolates obtained from the cathode showed an increase in the power output of up to three-fold compared to a non-inoculated control, that is, from 0.015±0.001 to 0.049±0.025 W m- 2 cathode projected surface. The strong decrease in activation losses indicates that bacteria function as true catalysts for oxygen reduction. Owing to the high overpotential for non-catalyzed reduction, oxygen is only to a limited extent competitive toward the electron donor, that is, the cathode. Further research to refine the operational parameters and increase the current density by modifying the electrode surface and elucidating the bacterial metabolism is warranted.
Keyword bio-electrochemical system
wastewater treatment
renewable energy
biofuel cell
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
Advanced Water Management Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 128 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 136 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 07 Apr 2009, 14:43:15 EST by Suzanne Read on behalf of Advanced Water Management Centre