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Environmental Engineering Research 2008;13(2): 51-65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4491/eer.2008.13.2.051
Microbial Fuel Cells: Recent Advances, Bacterial Communities and Application Beyond Electricity Generation
In S. Kim1, Kyu-Jung Chae1, Mi-Jin Choi1, and Willy Verstraete2
1Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 261 Cheomdan-gwagiro, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea
2Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
Corresponding Author: In S. Kim ,Tel: +82-62-970-2436, Fax: +82-62-970-2434, Email: iskim@gist.ac.kr
Received: April 7, 2008;  Accepted: May 8, 2008.
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The increasing demand for energy in the near future has created strong motivation for environmentally clean alternative energy resources. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have opened up new ways of utilizing renewable energy sources. MFCs are devices that convert the chemical energy in the organic compounds to electrical energy through microbial catalysis at the anode under anaerobic conditions, and the reduction of a terminal electron acceptor, most preferentially oxygen, at the cathode. Due to the rapid advances in MFC-based technology over the last decade, the currently achievable MFC power production has increased by several orders of magnitude, and niche applications have been extended into a variety of areas. Newly emerging concepts with alternative materials for electrodes and catalysts as well as innovative designs have made MFCs promising technologies. Aerobic bacteria can also be used as cathode catalysts. This is an encouraging finding because not only biofouling on the cathode is unavoidable in the prolonged-run MFCs but also noble catalysts can be substituted with aerobic bacteria. This article discusses some of the recent advances in MFCs with an emphasis on the performance, materials, microbial community structures and applications beyond electricity generation.
Keywords: Bacterial community | Energy | Electricity | Electrochemically active bacteria | Microbial fuel cells
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