Investigating effect of proton-exchange membrane on new air-cathode single-chamber microbial fuel cell configuration for bioenergy recovery from Azorubine dye degradation.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jul; 26(21):21201-21215.ES
One of the biggest challenges of using single-chamber microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that utilize proton-exchange membrane (PEM) air cathode for bioenergy recovery from recalcitrant organic compounds present in wastewater is mainly attributed to their high internal resistance in the anodic chamber of the single microbial fuel cell (MFC) configurations. The high internal resistance is due to the small surface area of the anode and cathode electrodes following membrane biofouling and pH splitting conditions as well as substrate and oxygen crossover through the membrane pores by diffusion. To address this issue, the fabrication of new PEM air-cathode single-chamber MFC configuration was investigated with inner channel flow open assembled with double PEM air cathodes (two oxygen reduction activity zones) coupled with spiral-anode MFC (2MA-CsS-AMFC). The effect of various proton-exchange membranes (PEMs), including Nafion 117 (N-117), Nafion 115 (N-115), and Nafion 212 (N-212) with respective thicknesses of 183, 127, and 50.08 μ, was separately incorporated into carbon cloth as PEM air-cathode electrode to evaluate their influences on the performance of the 2MA-CsS-AMFC configuration operated in fed-batch mode, while Azorubine dye was selected as the recalcitrant organic compound. The fed-batch test results showed that the 2MA-CsS-AMFC configuration with PEM N-115 operated at Azorubine dye concentration of 300 mg L-1 produced the highest power density of 1022.5 mW m-2 and open-circuit voltage (OCV) of 1.20 V coupled with enhanced dye removal (4.77 mg L h-1) compared to 2MA-CsS-AMFCs with PEMs N-117 and N-212 and those in previously published data. Interestingly, PEM 115 showed remarkable reduction in biofouling and pH splitting. Apart from that, mass transfer coefficient of PEM N-117 was the most permeable to oxygen (KO = 1.72 × 10-4 cm s-1) and PEM N-212 was the most permeable membrane to Azorubine (KA = 7.52 × 10-8 cm s-1), while PEM N-115 was the least permeable to both oxygen (KO = 1.54 × 10-4) and Azorubine (KA = 7.70 × 10-10). The results demonstrated that the 2MA-CsS-AMFC could be promising configuration for bioenergy recovery from wastewater treatment under various PEMs, while application of PEM N-115 produced the best performance compared to PEMs N-212 and N-117 and those in previous studies of membrane/membrane-less air-cathode single-chamber MFCs that consumed dye wastewater.