An investigation of anode and cathode materials in photomicrobial fuel cells.Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2016 Feb 28; 374(2061)PT
Photomicrobial fuel cells (p-MFCs) are devices that use photosynthetic organisms (such as cyanobacteria or algae) to turn light energy into electrical energy. In a p-MFC, the anode accepts electrons from microorganisms that are either growing directly on the anode surface (biofilm) or are free floating in solution (planktonic). The nature of both the anode and cathode material is critical for device efficiency. An ideal anode is biocompatible and facilitates direct electron transfer from the microorganisms, with no need for an electron mediator. For a p-MFC, there is the additional requirement that the anode should not prevent light from perfusing through the photosynthetic cells. The cathode should facilitate the rapid reaction of protons and oxygen to form water so as not to rate limit the device. In this paper, we first review the range of anode and cathode materials currently used in p-MFCs. We then present our own data comparing cathode materials in a p-MFC and our first results using porous ceramic anodes in a mediator-free p-MFC.