Use of cyclic voltammetry to describe the electrochemical behavior of a dual-chamber microbial fuel cell

Miguel Ángel López Zavala*, Omar Israel González Peña, Héctor Cabral Ruelas, Cristina Delgado Mena, Mokhtar Guizani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Cyclic voltammetry (CV) was used in this work to describe the electrochemical behavior of a dual-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC). The system performance was evaluated under vacuum and non-pressurized conditions, different reaction times, two sweep potentials, 25 and 50 mVs−1 and under different analyte solutions, such as distilled water and domestic wastewater. CV experiments were conducted by using a potentiostat with three different configurations to collect the measurements. A dual-chamber MFC system was equipped with a DupontTM Nafion® 117 proton exchange membrane (PEM), graphite electrodes (8.0 cm × 2.5 cm × 0.2 cm) and an external electric circuit with a 100-Ω resistor. An electrolyte (0.1 M HCl, pH ≈ 1.8) was used in the cathode chamber. It was found that the proton exchange membrane plays a major role on the electrochemical behavior of the MFC when CV measurements allow observing the conductivity performance in the MFC in the absence of a reference electrode; under this potentiostat setting, less current density values are obtained on the scanned window potentials. Therefore, potentiostat setting is essential to obtain information in complex electrochemical processes present in biological systems, such as it is the case in the MFCs. Results of the study showed that wastewater constituents and the biomass suspended or attached (biofilm) over the electrode limited the electron charge transfer through the interface electrode-biofilm-liquor. This limitation can be overcome by: (i) Enhancing the conductivity of the liquor, which is a reduction of the ohmic drop, (ii) reducing the activation losses by a better catalysis, and (iii) by limiting the diffusional gradients in the bulk liquor, for instance, by forced convection. The use of the electrolyte (0.1 M HCl, pH ≈ 1.8) and its diffusion from the cathode to the anode chamber reduces the resistance to the flow of ions through the PEM and the flow of electrons through the anodic and cathodic electrolytes. Also reduces the activation losses during the electron transfer from the substrate to the electrode surface due to the electrode catalysis improvement. On the other hand, vacuum also demonstrated that it enhances the electrochemical performance of the dual-chamber MFC due to the fact that higher current densities in the system are favored.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3532
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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