One of the most intriguing renewable energy production methods being explored currently is electrical power generation by microbial fuel cells (MFCs). However, to make MFC technology economically feasible, cost efficient electrode manufacturing processes need to be proposed and demonstrated.
In this context, VITO has developed an innovative electrode manufacturing process based on film casting and phase inversion. The screening and selection process of electrode compositions was done based on physicochemical properties of the active layer, which in turn maintained a close relation with their composition. A dual hydrophilic-hydrophobic character in the active layer was achieved with values of εhydrophilic up to 10% while εTOTAL remained in the range 65 wt % to 75 wt %. Eventually, selected electrodes were tested as air cathodes for MFC in half cell and full cell modes.
Reduction currents, up to −0.14 mA·cm2− at −100 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl) were reached in long term experiments in the cathode half-cell. In full MFC, a maximum power density of 380 mW·m−2 was observed at 100 Ω external load.