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Comparative evaluation of the performance of platinum and activated carbon as catalyst in microbial fuel cells for the energy integrated treatment of brewery wastewater
E. T. Ojong, D. Khalifa, A. S. Braeuer, R. Haseneder

The objective of microbial fuel cells (MFC) is the biological treatment of wastewater and simultaneous generation of bio-electricity. Catalyst coated membranes can account for up to 70 % of large-scale MFC costs; therefore, to increase the commercial attractiveness of the technology, it is inevitable that the catalyst is cost-efficient with acceptable catalytic performance. We have performed in-situ measurements in an air-breathing single chamber MFC to compare the electrical power generation using platinum and activated carbon coated membranes. Coulombic efficiencies of 14.5 % and 11.6 % were recorded for the platinum and activated carbon ORR catalysts, respectively and 53 % COD removal using brewery wastewater as bio-fuel. The results suggest that activated carbon can replace platinum-based catalysts without a significant loss of performance. This can be a significant cost saving solution (up to 15 times) for large scale and commercial MFCs, especially when biological treatment of industrial wastewater, such as brewery wastewater, is the primary objective.

Descriptors: brewery wastewater treatment, microbial fuel cell (MFC), oxygen reduction catalysts, coulombic efficiency

BrewingScience, 75 (March/April 2022), pp. 18-25