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

104 Scopus citations


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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