The effect of internal capacitance on power quality and energy efficiency in a tubular microbial fuel cell

Katrin R. Fradler, Jung Rae Kim*, Hitesh C. Boghani, Richard M. Dinsdale, Alan J. Guwy, Giuliano C. Premier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The pseudo-capacitive behaviour of a high surface area carbon veil electrode in a tubular microbial fuel cell (MFC) was investigated as a mechanism to enhance power quality and energy efficiency. Accumulated charge and energy from the anodic biofilm after prolonged open circuit times (1-120 min) were compared against equivalent periods of steady state loading (R = 100-3000 Ω). A significant difference in the amount of accumulated charge with different loads was observed, resulting in 1.051 C (R = 100 Ω) compared to 0.006 C (R = 3 kΩ). The automated application of short open and closed circuit (0.5-10 s) cycles resulted in an increase of power/current production (closed circuit alone), but presented lower efficiency considering entire open and closed period. The cumulative charge on the carbon veil electrode with biofilm was 39,807 C m-2 at 100 Ω. Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) showed that the Helmholtz layer presented a double layer capacitance of more than ten times the biofilm on electrode. The results indicate that the capacitive behaviour could be utilized to increase the power quality, i.e. its availability/applicability with respect to the operation of low power consuming devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-980
Number of pages8
JournalProcess Biochemistry
Issue number6
Early online date12 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • Biofilm capacitance
  • Charge accumulation
  • Double layer capacitance
  • Microbial fuel cell (MFC)
  • Power quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry


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