Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have been used to generate electricity from various organic compounds such as acetate, glucose, and lactate. We demonstrate here that electricity can be produced in an MFC using cellulose as the electron donor source. Tests were conducted using two-chambered MFCs, the anode medium was inoculated with mixed or pure culture of cellulose-degrading bacteria Nocardiopsis sp. KNU (S strain) or Streptomyces enissocaesilis KNU (K strain), and the catholyte in the cathode compartment was 50mM ferricyanide as catholyte. The power density for the mixed culture was 0.188mW (188mW/m2) at a current of 0.5mA when 1g/L cellulose was used. However, the power density decreased as the cellulose concentration in the anode compartment decreased. The columbic efficiencies (CEs) ranged from 41.5 to 33.4%, corresponding to an initial cellulose concentration of 0.1-1.0g/L. For the pure culture, cellobioase enzyme was added to increase the conversion of cellulose to simple sugars, since electricity production is very low. The power densities for S and K strain pure cultures with cellobioase were 162mW/m2 and 145mW/m2, respectively. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) experiments showed the presence of peaks at 380, 500, and 720mV vs. Ag/AgCl for the mixed bacterial culture, indicating its electrochemical activity without an external mediator. Furthermore, this MFC system employs a unique microbial ecology in which both the electron donor (cellulose) and the electron acceptor (carbon paper) are insoluble.
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