Microbial fuel cells, a renewable energy technology for bio-electricity generation: A mini-review

Kechrist Obileke, Helen Onyeaka, Edson L Meyer, Nwabunwanne Nwokolo

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The unsustainable nature and the environmental impact of fossil fuels have shifted attention to renewable energy and fuel cells, especially in the transportation sector. In this study, the generation of electricity based on the electrons released from biochemical reactions facilitated by microbes is evaluated. Microbial fuel cell (MFC) represents an eco-friendly approach to generating electricity while purifying wastewater concurrently, achieving up to 50% chemical oxygen demand removal and power densities in the range of 420–460 mW/m2. The system utilizes the metabolism power of bacteria for electricity generation. This mini-review is quite comprehensive. It is different from other reviews, it is all-inclusive focusing on the; types of MFCs; substrates and microbes; areas of applications; device performances; design, and technology configuration. All these were evaluated, presented and discussed which can now be accessed in a single paper. It was discovered that higher power density and coulombic efficiency could be achieved through proper selection of microbes, mode of operation, a suitable material for construction, and improved MFC types. Also, the full-scale application of MFC is impeded by materials cost and the wastewater low buffering capacity. Though the electricity generated is still at the demonstration stage, to date, there is no industrial application. Therefore, this study reviewed articles on the technology to set new and insightful perspectives for further research and highlighted steps for scale-up while reinforcing the criteria for microbe selection and their corresponding activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107003
JournalElectrochemistry Communications
Early online date10 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Coulombic efficiency
  • Double chamber
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Power density
  • Single chamber


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