EFCF 2019 – Innovative Design of Microbial Fuel Cell

Innovative Design of Microbial Fuel Cell for Integration into Selectively Programmable Bioreactor Wall

European Fuel Cell Forum EFCF 2019
23rd Conference in Series with Exhibition
2– 5 July 2019, Lucerne, Switzerland

Jiseon You (1), Lauren Wallis (1), Antisthenis Tsompanas (2), Arjuna Mendis (1), John Greenman (1), Ioannis Ieropoulos (1)

(1)    Bristol BioEnergy Centre, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE Bristol
Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY, UK
(2)    Unconventional Computing Group, UWE Bristol
Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY, UK
Tel.: +44-117-328-5438


An innovative design of microbial fuel cell (MFC) system was developed to be integrated into selectively programmable bioreactor wall, which aims at transforming our habitats from inert spaces into programmable sites. The MFC bioreactor consists of a single anode chamber, two neighboring algal cathode chambers on both sides and an additional chamber, which incorporates engineered microorganisms.
The bioreactor chassis was 3D printed in ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) with the dimensions of 90×195×80 mm (HWD). Custom made ceramic membranes were placed between anode and cathode chambers. Surfaces of both anode and cathode were modified by increasing carbon content for performance improvement. Total 15 MFC units were placed in the wall in five cascade groups of three MFCs in each cascade. An energy harvesting controller was built and connected to the system in order to operate the entire system and demonstrate potential applications.
This novel design of MFC was expected to accomplish multiple tasks such as electricity generation, domestic wastewater treatment, algal biomass production and resource recovery. Different streams of household wastewater including human urine were tested as a feedstock in the system.
This project presents a remarkable example of MFC technology implementation, and also reveals significant challenges to overcome.