Manganese Dioxide as a New Cathode Catalyst in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC)

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This study focused on manganese oxides with a cryptomelane-type octahedral molecular sieve (OMS-2) structure to replace platinum as a cathode catalyst in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Undoped (ud-OSM-2) and three catalysts doped with cobalt (Co-OMS-2), copper (Cu-OMS-2), and cerium (Ce-OMS-2) to enhance their catalytic performances were investigated. The novel OMS-2 cathodes were examined in granular activated carbon MFC (GACMFC) with sodium acetate as the anode reagent and oxygen in air as the cathode reagent. The results showed that after 400 hours of operation, the Co-OMS-2 and Cu-OMS-2 exhibited good catalytic performance in an oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). The voltage of the Co-OMS-2 GACMFC was 217 mV, the power density was 180 mW/m2 of the Cu-OMS-2 GACMFC was 214 mV and the power density was 165 mW/m2. The internal resistance (Rin) of the OMS-2 GACMFCs was similar to that of the platinum GACMFCs (17 ohm). Furthermore, the degradation rates of organic substrates in the OMS-2 GACMFCs were twice those in platinum GACMFCs, which enhance their wastewater treatment efficiencies. The OMS-2 cathodes were also tested in terms of continuous flow. The results showed that the power density of Cu-OMS-2 and Co-OMS-2 can reach 198 and 180 mW/m2respectively which were 47% and 42 % higher than that of Pt cathode at COD concentration 1000 mg/L HRT 25 hours. The COD removal rates were 87% and 83% for Cu-OMS-2 and Co-OMS-2 cathode while the Pt cathode can only hold 68%. This study indicated that using OMS-2 manganese oxides to replace platinum as a cathodic catalyst enhances power generation, increases contaminant removal, and substantially reduces the cost of MFCs.

Keywords: Microbial fuel cells; manganese dioxides; octahedral molecular sieves; oxygen reduction reaction

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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