A high power density miniaturized microbial fuel cell having carbon nanotube anodes

Hao Ren, Soonjae Pyo, Jae Ik Lee, Tae Jin Park, Forrest S. Gittleson, Frederick C.C. Leung, Jongbaeg Kim, André D. Taylor, Hyung Sool Lee, Junseok Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a promising technology capable of directly converting the abundant biomass on the planet into electricity. Prior studies have adopted a variety of nanostructured materials with high surface area to volume ratio (SAV), yet the current and power density of these nanostructured materials do not deliver a significant leap over conventional MFCs. This study presents a novel approach to implement a miniaturized MFC with a high SAV of 4000 m-1 using three different CNT-based electrode materials: Vertically Aligned CNT (VACNT), Randomly Aligned CNT (RACNT), and Spin-Spray Layer-by-Layer (SSLbL) CNT. These CNT-based electrodes show unique biofilm morphology and thickness. The study of performance parameters of miniaturized MFCs with these CNT-electrodes are conducted with respect to a control bare gold electrode. The results show that CNT-based materials attract more exoelectrogens, Geobacter sp., than bare gold, yielding thicker biofilm formation. Among CNT-based electrodes, low sheet resistance electrodes result in thick biofilm generation and high current/power density. The miniaturized MFC having an SSLbL CNT anode exhibits a high volumetric power density of 3320 W m-3. This research may help lay the foundation for future research involving the optimization of MFCS with 2D and 3D nanostructured electrodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-830
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Layer-by-Layer assembly
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Surface area to volume ratio (SAV)

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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