Performance improvement of whey-driven microbial fuel cells by acclimation of indigenous anodophilic microbes

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Abstract

Various methods are available for the recycling and treatment of cheese whey with the objective of enhancing sustainable manufacturing. Currently, an increasing interest is on the anaerobic bioremediation of whey with the added benefit of generating electricity in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Since microorganisms are the biocatalysts in MFCs, their initial density plays a paramount role both towards electricity generation and bioremediation. Hence, this study was aimed at evaluating the effects of anode enrichment with microorganisms on power generation. Anodes were enriched with microorganisms inherent to whey for periods of 30 and 90 days before their application in wheypowered MFCs. At the termination of reactor cycles, the one-month-old pre-incubated anodes had 0.13% coulombic efficiency (εcb), 88.3% total chemical oxygen demand (tCOD) removal efficiency and maximum power density (Pd) was 29.1 ± 4.9 W/m2, whereas the three-month-old pre-incubated anode had εcb = 80.9 and 92.8%, tCOD removal and maximum Pd was 1800 ± 120 W/m2. Two non-acclimated anodes used as control in separate setups exhibited 0.17% coulombic efficiency, 71.6% tCOD removal and maximum Pd of 30.9 ± 4.2 W//m2. Microscopy analyses revealed different morphologies on anode surfaces depending on the length of the enrichment periods and further molecular analyses of electrode communities indicated up to 92% identity to various species from the Lactobacillus genus. This study established that, an initial acclimation step ahead of MFC setups significantly improved the performance of reactors utilising live cheese whey as fuel. © 2011 Academic Journals.

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APA

Kassongo, J., & Togo, C. A. (2011). Performance improvement of whey-driven microbial fuel cells by acclimation of indigenous anodophilic microbes. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10(40), 7846–7852. https://doi.org/10.5897/AJB11.206

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