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Towards the optimisation of ceramic-based microbial fuel cells: A three-factor three-level response surface analysis design

Salar-García, M.J, de Ramón-Fernández, A., Ortiz-Martínez, V.M., Ruiz-Fernández, D., Ieropoulos, I.
Biochemical engineering journal 2019 v.144 pp. 119-124
anodes, energy, experimental design, fossil fuels, humans, microbial fuel cells, models, power generation, statistical analysis, sustainable technology, urine, water shortages
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are an environment-friendly technology, which addresses two of the most important environmental issues worldwide: fossil fuel depletion and water scarcity. Modelling is a useful tool that allows us to understand the behaviour of MFCs and predict their performance, yet the number of MFC models that could accurately inform a scale-up process, is low. In this work, a three-factor three-level Box–Behnken design is used to evaluate the influence of different operating parameters on the performance of air-breathing ceramic-based MFCs fed with human urine. The statistical analysis of the 45 tests run shows that both anode area and external resistance have more influence on the power output than membrane thickness, in the range studied. The theoretical optimal conditions were found at a membrane thickness of 1.55 mm, an external resistance of 895.59 Ω and an anode area of 165.72 cm2, corresponding to a maximum absolute power generation of 467.63 μW. The accuracy of the second order model obtained is 88.6%. Thus, the three-factor three-level Box–Behnken-based model designed is an effective tool which provides key information for the optimisation of the energy harvesting from MFC technology and saves time in terms of experimental work.