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Iron–nitrogen–activated carbon as cathode catalyst to improve the power generation of single-chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cells

Pan, Yajun, Mo, Xiaoping, Li, Kexun, Pu, Liangtao, Liu, Di, Yang, Tingting
Bioresource technology 2016 v.206 pp. 285-289
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, activated carbon, air, catalysts, electrodes, energy, microbial fuel cells, nitrogen, oxygen, power generation, wastewater treatment
In order to improve the performance of microbial fuel cell (MFC), iron–nitrogen–activated carbon (Fe–N–C) as an excellent oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalyst was prepared here using commercial activated carbon (AC) as matrix and employed in single chamber MFC. In MFC, the maximum power density increased to 2437±55mWm−2, which was 2 times of that with AC. The open circuit potential (OCP) of Fe–N–C cathode (0.47) was much higher than that of AC cathode (0.21V). The R0 of Fe–N–C decreased by 47% from 14.36Ω (AC) to 7.6Ω (Fe–N–C). From X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), pyridinic nitrogen, quaternary nitrogen and iron species were present, which played an important role in the ORR performance of Fe–N–C. These results demonstrated that the as-prepared Fe–N–C material provided a potential alternative to Pt in AC air cathode MFC for relatively desirable energy generation and wastewater treatment.