Full cell simulation and the evaluation of the buffer system on air-cathode microbial fuel cell

Shiqi Ou, Hiroyuki Kashima, Douglas S. Aaron, John M. Regan, Matthew M. Mench

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This paper presents a computational model of a single chamber, air-cathode MFC. The model considers losses due to mass transport, as well as biological and electrochemical reactions, in both the anode and cathode half-cells. Computational fluid dynamics and Monod-Nernst analysis are incorporated into the reactions for the anode biofilm and cathode Pt catalyst and biofilm. The integrated model provides a macro-perspective of the interrelation between the anode and cathode during power production, while incorporating microscale contributions of mass transport within the anode and cathode layers. Model considerations include the effects of pH (H+/OHtransport) and electric field-driven migration on concentration overpotential, effects of various buffers and various amounts of buffer on the pH in the whole reactor, and overall impacts on the power output of the MFC. The simulation results fit the experimental polarization and power density curves well. Further, this model provides insight regarding mass transport at varying current density regimes and quantitative delineation of overpotentials at the anode and cathode. Overall, this comprehensive simulation is designed to accurately predict MFC performance based on fundamental fluid and kinetic relations and guide optimization of the MFC system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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