Porous anodes with helical flow pathways in bioelectrochemical systems: The effects of fluid dynamics and operating regimes

Jung Rae Kim, Hitesh C. Boghani, Negar Amini, Kondo François Aguey-Zinsou, Iain Michie, Richard M. Dinsdale, Alan J. Guwy, Zheng Xiao Guo, Giuliano C. Premier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) and/or microbial fuel cell (MFC) mass transport and associated over-potential limitations are affected by flow regimes, which may simultaneously increase the power and pollution treatment capacities. Two electrodes with helical flow channels were compared in the same tubular MFC reactor. 1). A machined monolithic microporous conductive carbon (MMCC). 2). A layered carbon veil with spoked ABS former (LVSF); both presented helical flow channel. Anode performances were compared when subject to temperature, substrate concentration and flow rate variations. The MMCC maximum power increased from 2.9 ± 0.3 to 7.6 ± 0.7 mW with influent acetate concentration, from 1 to 10 mM (with 2 mL min -1), but decreased power to 5.5 ± 0.5 mW at 40 mM, implicated localized pH/buffering. Flow rate (0.1 to 7.5 mL min -1) effects were relatively small but an increase was evident from batch to continuous operation at 0.1 mL min -1. The LVSF configuration showed improved performance in power as the flow rate increased, indicating that flow pattern affects BES performance. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling showed less uniform flow with the LVSF. Thus flow regime driven mass transfer improves the power output in continuously fed system operation. These results indicate that electrode configuration, flow regime and operating condition need consideration to optimize the bioelectrochemical reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-390
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • Bioelectrochemical system (BES)
  • Carbon foam
  • Flow induced mass transfer
  • Helical electrode
  • Micro-porous carbon
  • Microbial fuel cell (MFC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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