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Cellulose-Derived Electricity Production in Microbial Fuel Cells

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Cellulose removal from municipal wastes and wastewaters using current technologies is difficult and expensive due to its recalcitrance to biological treatment. This study used a natural inoculum from activated sludge to convert cellulose into electricity in a microbial fuel cell (MFC), concurrently achieving waste treatment and power generation. Clostridium cellulolyticum was also added in some of the reactors to enhance cellulose degradation through bioaugmentation. In two-chamber cellulose-fed MFCs, the Clostridium-enhanced MFC generated electricity quickly and achieved a maximum power density of 55.7 mW/m2 on carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and 51.0 mW/m2 on MN301 cellulose, coupled with 54-59% of cellulose degradation. The unamended sludge-inoculated MFC showed gradual power generation, with lower power density (42.4 mW/m2 on CMC and 35.7 mW/m2 on MN301) and lower cellulose hydrolysis (40-41%), due to a less effective cellulolytic community. These results demonstrate the potential of directly converting cellulosic wastes into electricity through natural inocula, but more efficient communities are needed for eventual application.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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