Assessment of Microbial Fuel Cell Configurations and Power Densities

Bruce E. Logan, Maxwell J. Wallack, Kyoung Yeol Kim, Weihua He, Yujie Feng, Pascal E. Saikaly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

430 Scopus citations


Different microbial electrochemical technologies are being developed for many diverse applications, including wastewater treatment, biofuel production, water desalination, remote power sources, and biosensors. Current and energy densities will always be limited relative to batteries and chemical fuel cells, but these technologies have other advantages based on the self-sustaining nature of the microorganisms that can donate or accept electrons from an electrode, the range of fuels that can be used, and versatility in the chemicals that can be produced. The high cost of membranes will likely limit applications of microbial electrochemical technologies that might require a membrane. For microbial fuel cells, which do not need a membrane, questions about whether larger-scale systems can produce power densities similar to those obtained in laboratory-scale systems remain. It is shown here that configuration and fuel (pure chemicals in laboratory media vs actual wastewaters) remain the key factors in power production, rather than the scale of the application. Systems must be scaled up through careful consideration of electrode spacing and packing per unit volume of the reactor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-214
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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