Open Access

Effect of Combining Different Substrates and Inoculum Sources on Bioelectricity Generation and COD Removal in a Two-Chambered Microbial FuelCell: A Preliminary Investigation

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Environmental and Climate Technologies
SPECIAL ISSUE OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE TECHNOLOGIES PART I: The Green Deal Umbrella for Environmental and Climate Technologies


In recent years, fuel cells have become a renewable source of energy. Among different kinds of fuel cells, microbial fuel cells, which convert organic substrates to electricity by electrogenic bacteria have attracted most attention. In this study, which is preliminary in nature, potential of electricity generation and chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal were studied in a two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) reactor. Effect of type of feedstock and inoculum source on bioelectricity generation and COD removal was studied as well. Brewery wastewater and potato waste were used as substrates while anaerobic sludge and cow dung were used as inoculum sources. The substrate and inoculum sources were in 8.2:1 ratio and a phosphate buffer was added to the anode compartment to regulate the pH. The system was operated at 30 °C and a home-made membrane served as a bridge between the electrodes. A maximum voltage of 3.6 mV was generated from the brewery wastewater sludge and the maximum COD removal after 3 days was 43.7 %. It was further found that the use of animal dung as inoculum source outperformed the use of sludge as regard the bioelectricity generation but not for COD removal. Similarly, the use of the brewery waste as an organic substrate outperformed the use of potato waste as regard the bioelectricity generation but not for COD removal. All experiments yielded a measurable voltage, however, the unsteady behaviour of the voltage output made it difficult to compare substrates in terms of their viability as organic fuel. Therefore, future studies should consider conducting substrate physico-chemical analysis and genomic analysis of the inoculum sources to understand their composition.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other