Future Possibilities in Microbial Fuel Cell Technology

Table of Contents:

Momentous improvements in the MFC technologies have been witnessed in recent decades. The practical utility and scale-up of MFC technologies encounter certain technical challenges of which the impediment of power generation is of major concern. The hindrance in the production of power is obstructed if the concentration of the substrate surpasses a specific level because there is a direct relationship between the substrate concentration and power generation by the MFC. The second issue that needs attention is the high internal resistance that consumes the generated power substantially, thereby curtailing the MFC output. As there is an involvement of EAB in the operation of MFCs, it is equally important to focus on improving the yield and transfer of electrons. Genetic modifications of EAB is an approach that can be further explored. Other research areas of attention are vital modifications in the electrode, optimization of process parameters and scale-up of the reactor.

The focus is also being bestowed on employing cost-effective and sustainable materials for constructing the MFCs. Achieving this target would help in scaling up of the process along with suitable disposal of toxic wastes being accumulated as electronic components, plastics and batteries. The performance of a MFC can be optimized if the suitable provisions are made for the removal of the organic load. All these strategies would boost up the power production by multifold levels. The possibility of employing cost-effective and non-toxic mediators should also be considered. It would be better if the need for using these artificial mediators can be subsided. The exploration of microbial species that can support direct conductance should also be encouraged.

Conclusions

Microbial fuel cells are an excellent approach to solve environmental issues and energy crises. A wide variety of microorganisms supports this process where they generate electrons from the oxidation of organic matter. The movement of these electrons generates electricity. Several mediators can be employed to facilitate this process. However, endogenous mediators of microbial origin can curtail the need for artificial mediators. Many efforts are being made to make this technology cost-effective and efficient. The last few years have witnessed the expansion of the scope of MFC utilization for bioelectricity production for specialized utilities. The MFC is a feasible approach for producing biofuels such as biohydrogen. Some lethal compounds can also be remediated with the help of MFCs technology.

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