Research ArticleENERGY RESOURCES

Three-dimensional graphene/Pt nanoparticle composites as freestanding anode for enhancing performance of microbial fuel cells

Science Advances  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 10, e1500372
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500372

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Abstract

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are able to directly convert about 50 to 90% of energy from oxidation of organic matters in waste to electricity and have great potential application in broad fields such as wastewater treatment. Unfortunately, the power density of the MFCs at present is significantly lower than the theoretical value because of technical limitations including low bacteria loading capacity and difficult electron transfer between the bacteria and the electrode. We reported a three-dimensional (3D) graphene aerogel (GA) decorated with platinum nanoparticles (Pt NPs) as an efficient freestanding anode for MFCs. The 3D GA/Pt–based anode has a continuous 3D macroporous structure that is favorable for microorganism immobilization and efficient electrolyte transport. Moreover, GA scaffold is homogenously decorated with Pt NPs to further enhance extracellular charge transfer between the bacteria and the anode. The MFCs constructed with 3D GA/Pt–based anode generate a remarkable maximum power density of 1460 mW/m2, 5.3 times higher than that based on carbon cloth (273 mW/m2). It deserves to be stressed that 1460 mW/m2 obtained from the GA/Pt anode shows the superior performance among all the reported MFCs inoculated with Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Moreover, as a demonstration of the real application, the MFC equipped with the freestanding GA/Pt anode has been successfully applied in driving timer for the first time, which opens the avenue toward the real application of the MFCs.

Keywords
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Graphene
  • Porous structure
  • Extracellular electron transfer
  • Three-dimensional electrode

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