Interface resistances of anion exchange membranes in microbial fuel cells with low ionic strength

Eunkyoung Ji, Hyunsoo Moon, Jingmei Piao, Phuc Thi Ha, Junyeong An, Daehee Kim, Jung Je Woo, Yonghee Lee, Seung Hyeon Moon, Bruce Rittmann, In Seop Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The interface resistances between an anion exchange membrane (AEM) and the solution electrolyte were measured for low buffer (or ionic strength) of electrolytes typical of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Three AEMs (AFN, AM-1, and ACS) having different properties were tested in a flat-plate MFC to which 5-mM acetate was fed to the anode and an air-saturated phosphate buffer (PB) solution was fed to the cathode. Current density achieved in the MFCs was correlated inversely with independently measured membrane-only resistances. However, the total interfacial resistances measured by current-voltage plots were approximately two orders higher than those of the membrane-only resistances, although membranes had the same order as with the membrane-only resistance. EIS spectra showed that the resistances from electric-double layer and diffusion boundary layer were the main resistances not the membrane's resistance. The electric-double layer and diffusion boundary layer resistances of the AEMs were much larger in the 10mM PB electrolyte, compared to 100mM PB. EIS study also showed that the resistance of diffusion boundary layer decreased due to mechanical stirring. Therefore, the interface resistance that originates from the interaction between the membrane and the catholyte solution should be considered when designing and operating MFC processes with an AEM. The AEMs allowed transport of uncharged O2 and acetate, but the current losses for both were low during normal MFC operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3266-3271
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 15 2011


  • Anion-exchange membrane
  • EIS
  • Interface resistances
  • Microbial fuel cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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