African Journal of Biotechnology

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Application of multi-walled carbon nanotubes to enhance anodic performance of an Enterobacter cloacae-based fuel cell

S Nambiar, CA Togo, JL Limson


The effect of multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) modification of anodes and the optimisation of relevant parameters thereof for application in an Enterobacter cloacae microbial fuel cell were examined. The H – type microbial fuel cells were used for the fundamental studies, with a carbon sheet as a control anode and platinum coated carbon sheets as the cathode. Anodes were correspondingly modified with MWCNTs dispersed in either 0.1% chitosan or 1% Nafion®. Maximum power output was
observed four hours after inoculation of the anode chamber with the microorganism. A 252.6% increase in power output of the fuel cell was observed at an anode modified with 10 mg MWCNTs/ml dispersed in
0.1% chitosan compared to unmodified anodes (13.8 ìW). MWCNTs dispersed in chitosan yielded nearly 50% greater power outputs than when dispersed in Nafion®; attributed to increased aggregation in the latter as evidenced by scanning electron microscopy imaging. When NafionTM 117 membrane was used as a proton exchanger it generally resulted in higher power outputs than the CMI 7000S membrane. These studies also showed that the time-consuming carboxylic acid functionalisation of MWCNT for such applications is not a necessary requirement for enhancing power outputs. The studies thus illustrate the utility of a MWCNT modified anode as a support matrix for E. cloacae in a microbial fuel cell and provide clarity on parameters which can be applied to other such studies in the emerging
area of nanostructured material utilisation in alternative energy generation.

AJOL African Journals Online