Comparison of performance of an earthen plate and nafion as membrane separators in dual chamber microbial fuel cells

Partha Sarathi Jana1, Makarand Madhao Ghangrekar2, Donal Leech1

1 University of Tehran, Faculty of Natural Resources, Karaj, Iran
2 University of Thessaly, Department of Agriculture, Crop Production and Rural Environment, Laboratory of Ecosystem and Biodiversity Management, Greece


The performance of microbial fuel cells (MFC) employing an earthen plate as a membrane separator is compared to that using Nafion 117 in an identical up-flow dual-chambered cylindrical cell configuration. The MFC configuration is of a cylindrical outer cathode chamber separated by the membrane from a concentric rectangular inner anode chamber. The fuel cells, operated under continuous mode at hydraulic retention time of 12 hr, achieved average chemical oxygen demand removal efficiency of 60% and 48%, for the Nafion and earthen plate separators, respectively. The microbial fuel cells based on the earthen plate separator generated slightly lower average (28%) and maximum (48%) power densities than Nafion separator which is likely due to the higher membrane resistance. The earthen plate separator is 99% cheaper than the Nafion membrane, showing promise as an alternate separator for application to MFC technology.


chemical oxygen demand; earthen plate; microbial fuel cell; power density; proton exchange membrane

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