Microbial Fuel Cell

M. Willert-Porada, K. Lorenz, R. Freitag, V. Jerome, S. Peiffer
University of Bayreuth, DE


Biofilm, hydrogen capture, PEM-fule cell, water cleaning


Polymer electrolyte fuel cells, PE-FC, use hydrogen or methanol as fuel. Water soluble organic compounds, like starch, glucose, acetates, can not serve as fuel because of limited catalytic activity of common metal catalysts. Opposite to metal catalysts used in PE-FC, microbial consortia are sufficiently active to extract hydrogen from organic molecules, however, the final product of this process is methane, CH4, which is too stable to be used as fuel in PE-FC. In the work presented, biofilms containing natural microbial consortia were externally grown on Gas Diffusion Electrodes (GDL), transferred from the bioreactor to a Membrane-Electrode-Assembly and operated under fuel cell conditions, using water solutions of organic substances as fuel. Hydrogen capture and „cold combustion“ is accelerated by 0.5 mg/cm˛ Pt on one side of the anode. The concept was proven to be successful: no methane formation occurred, up to 1.8µW/cm˛ at 30µA/cm˛ electrical power were produced with starch as fuel under sterile conditions. Growth kinetic and fuel cell performance for biofilms on different GDL’s is shown for different fuels. Activity of the biofilm is investigated by COD, LSM and Cryo-Rem measurements. The potential of „microbial fuel cells“ for waste water cleaning and power generation will be discussed.

Back to Program


Partnering Events:

Co-Produced by

Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization
MIT·Stanford·UC Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum
Nano Science and Technology Institute

Gold Sponsor

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC

Silver Sponsor

New Mexico Economic Development Partnership

Break Sponsor



Omron Silicon Valley
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
American River Ventures
Economic and Workforce Development through the California Community Colleges
Controlled Contamination Services, LLC
Clean Technology International Corp.
Full Circle Solar
NanoDynamics, Inc.
Riverside Technologies
NanoSelect, Inc.
Power of Minus Nine
Akeena Solar
Charles Pankow Builders

Press Sponsor

Business Wire

Commercialization Partner


Media Sponsors

Science Magazine
Red Herring, Inc.
Fuel Cell Magazine
Battery Power Products & Technology
R&D Magazine
Sustainable Industries Journal
Inside Greentech
CLEAN — Soil, Air, Water