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Comparison of Electrode Reduction Activities of Geobacter sulfurreducens and an Enriched Consortium in an Air-Cathode Microbial Fuel Cell

Ishii, Shun'ichi, Watanabe, Kazuya, Yabuki, Soichi, Logan, Bruce E., Sekiguchi, Yuji
Applied and environmental microbiology 2008 v.74 no.23 pp. 7348-7355
Geobacter sulfurreducens, bacteria, biofilm, biomass, electrodes, electron transfer, electrons, iron, microbial fuel cells
An electricity-generating bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA, was inoculated into a single-chamber, air-cathode microbial fuel cell (MFC) in order to determine the maximum electron transfer rate from bacteria to the anode. To create anodic reaction-limiting conditions, where electron transfer from bacteria to the anode is the rate-limiting step, anodes with electrogenic biofilms were reduced in size and tests were conducted using anodes of six different sizes. The smallest anode (7 cm², or 1.5 times larger than the cathode) achieved an anodic reaction-limiting condition as a result of a limited mass of bacteria on the electrode. Under these conditions, the limiting current density reached a maximum of 1,530 mA/m², and power density reached a maximum of 461 mW/m². Per-biomass efficiency of the electron transfer rate was constant at 32 fmol cell⁻¹ day⁻¹ (178 μmol g of protein⁻¹ min⁻¹), a rate comparable to that with solid iron as the electron acceptor but lower than rates achieved with fumarate or soluble iron. In comparison, an enriched electricity-generating consortium reached 374 μmol g of protein⁻¹ min⁻¹ under the same conditions, suggesting that the consortium had a much greater capacity for electrode reduction. These results demonstrate that per-biomass electrode reduction rates (calculated by current density and biomass density on the anode) can be used to help make better comparisons of electrogenic activity in MFCs.