Generation of electricity in microbial fuel cells at sub-ambient temperatures

Tunc Catal, Paul Kavanagh, Vincent O'Flaherty, Dónal Leech*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Direct generation of electricity from a mixture of carbon sources was examined using single chamber mediator-less air cathode microbial fuel cells (MFCs) at sub-ambient temperatures. Electricity was directly generated from a carbon source mixture of d-glucose, d-galactose, d-xylose, d-glucuronic acid and sodium acetate at 30 °C and <20 °C (down to 4 °C). Anodic biofilms enriched at different temperatures using carbon source mixtures were examined using epi-fluorescent, scanning electron microscopy, and cyclic voltammetry for electrochemical evaluation. The maximum power density obtained at different temperatures ranged from 486 ± 68 mW m -2 to 602 ± 38 mW m -2 at current density range of 0.31 mA cm -2 to 0.41 mA cm -2 (14 °C and 30 °C, respectively). Coulombic efficiency increased with decreasing temperature, and ranged from 24 ± 3 to 38 ± 1% (20 °C and 4 °C, respectively). Chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal was over 68% for all carbon sources tested. Our results demonstrate adaptation, by gradual increase of cold-stress, to electricity production in MFCs at sub-ambient temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2676-2681
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2011


  • Biofilm
  • Carbon source
  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Sub-ambient temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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