Alkalization on the cathode electrode limits the electrical power generation of air-cathode microbial fuel cells (MFCs), and thus external proton supply to the cathode electrode is essential to enhance the electrical power generation. In this study, the effects of external CO2 and water supplies to the cathode electrode on the electrical power generation were investigated, and then the relative contributions of CO2 and water supplies to the total proton consumption were experimentally evaluated. The CO2 supply decreased the cathode pH and consequently increased the power generation. Carbonate dissolution was the main proton source under ambient air conditions, which provides about 67% of total protons consumed for the cathode reaction. It is also critical to adequately control the water content on the cathode electrode of air-cathode MFCs because the carbonate dissolution was highly dependent on water content. On the basis of these experimental results, the power density was increased by 400% (143.0 ± 3.5 mW/m2 to 575.0 ± 36.0 mW/m2) by supplying a humid gas containing 50% CO2 to the cathode chamber. This study demonstrates that the simultaneous CO2 and water supplies to the cathode electrode were effective to increase the electrical power generation of air-cathode MFCs for the first time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry