Bifunctional silver nanoparticle cathode in microbial fuel cells for microbial growth inhibition with comparable oxygen reduction reaction activity.Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Jun 15; 45(12):5441-6.ES
Organic contamination of water bodies in which benthic microbial fuel cells (benthic MFCs) are installed, and organic crossover from the anode to the cathode of membraneless MFCs, is a factor causing oxygen depletion and substrate loss in the cathode due to the growth of heterotrophic aerobic bacteria. This study examines the possible use of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) as a cathodic catalyst for MFCs suffering from organic contamination and oxygen depletion. Four treated cathodes (AgNPs-coated, Pt/C-coated, Pt/C+AgNPs-coated, and plain graphite cathodes) were prepared and tested under high levels of organics loading. During operation (fed with 50 mM acetate), the AgNPs-coated system showed the highest DO concentration (0.8 mg/L) in the cathode area as well as the highest current (ranging from 0.04 to 0.12 mA). Based on these results, we concluded that (1) the growth of oxygen-consuming heterotrophic microbes could be inhibited by AgNPs, (2) the function of AgNPs as a bacterial growth inhibitor resulted in a greater increase of DO concentration in the cathode than the other tested cathode systems, (3) AgNPs could be applied as a cathode catalyst for oxygen reduction, and as a result (4) the MFC with the AgNPs-coated cathode led to the highest current generation among the tested MFCs.