Iron-Nicarbazin derived platinum group metal-free electrocatalyst in scalable-size air-breathing cathodes for microbial fuel cells

Benjamin Erable, Manon Oliot, Rémy Lacroix, Alain Bergel, Alexey Serov, Mounika Kodali, Carlo Santoro, Plamen Atanassov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this work, a platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) catalyst based on iron as transitional metal and Nicarbazin (NCB) as low cost organic precursor was synthesized using Sacrificial Support Method (SSM). The catalyst was then incorporated into a large area air-breathing cathode fabricated by pressing with a large diameter pellet die. The electrochemical tests in abiotic conditions revealed that after a couple of weeks of successful operation, the electrode experienced drop in performances in reason of electrolyte leakage, which was not an issue with the smaller electrodes. A decrease in the hydrophobic properties over time and a consequent cathode flooding was suspected to be the cause. On the other side, in the present work, for the first time, it was demonstrated the proof of principle and provided initial guidance for manufacturing MFC electrodes with large geometric areas. The tests in MFCs showed a maximum power density of 1.85 W m−2. The MFCs performances due to the addition of Fe-NCB were much higher compared to the iron-free material. A numerical model using Nernst-Monod and Butler-Volmer equations were used to predict the effect of electrolyte solution conductivity and distance anode-cathode on the overall MFC power output. Considering the existing conditions, the higher overall power predicted was 3.6 mW at 22.2 S m−1 and at inter-electrode distance of 1 cm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Volume277
Early online date26 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Cathode
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • PGM-Free catalysts
  • Power generation

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