A microfluidic microbial fuel cell array that supports long-term multiplexed analyses of electricigens
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Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are green energy technologies that exploit microbial metabolism to generate electricity. The widespread implementation of MFC technologies has been stymied by their high cost and limited power. MFC arrays in which device configurations or microbial consortia can be screened have generated significant interest because of their potential for defining aspects that will improve performance featuring high throughput characteristics. However, current miniature MFCs and MFC array systems do not support long-term studies that mimic field conditions, and hence, have limitations in fully characterizing and understanding MFC performances in varieties of conditions. Here, we describe an MFC array device that incorporates microfluidic technology to enable continuous long-term analysis of MFC performance at high throughput utilizing periodic anolyte/catholyte replenishment. The system showed 360% higher power output and 700% longer operating time when compared to MFC arrays without catholyte replenishment. We further demonstrate the utility of the system by reporting its successful use in screening microbial consortia collected from geographically diverse environments for communities that support enhanced MFC performance. Taken together, this work demonstrates that anolyte/catholyte replenishment can significantly improve the long-term performance of microfabricated MFC arrays, and support the characterization of diverse microbial consortia.
author list (cited authors)
Hou, H., Li, L., Ceylan, C., Haynes, A., Cope, J., Wilkinson, H. H., ... Han, A.