Arylamine functionalization of carbon anodes for improved microbial electrocatalysis

September 2, 2013

Introduction of arylamine functional groups to graphite electrodes results in improved initial catalysis for acetate oxidation by microbial biofilms over that observed on unmodified anodes. Arylamine modified anodes achieve a current density of 3.4 A m−2 whilst unmodified anodes achieve only 1.3 A m−2 during the first batch feed cycle. The surface functionalization strategy provides a route to enhancing microbial bioelectrochemical systems process performance and for studying the complex mechanisms involved in such systems.

In microbial bioelectrochemical systems (BES) a range of materials and microbes are selected on the basis of their ability to exchange electrons. However, the relatively low current densities, and long start-up times, for such systems to date points to a requirement for a more efficient connection of microorganisms, as biocatalyst, to electrode surfaces, in order to progress to exploitation of microbial BES technology. Deliberate, controlled modification of electrode surfaces provides a route to probe, and further understand electron exchange mechanisms between bacteria and electrode and may lead to enhanced performance of BES for practical applications. Introduction of arylamine functional groups to graphite electrodes resulted in improved initial for acetate oxidation by microbial biofilms over that observed on unmodified . Arylamine modified anodes achieve a of 3.4 A m–2 whilst unmodified anodes achieve only 1.3 A m–2 during the first batch feed cycle. The surface functionalisation strategy provides a route to enhancing microbial bioelectrochemical systems process performance and for studying the complex mechanisms involved in such systems.

Overall, these preliminary results show that (chemical functional groups) of anodes can enhance initial current density in a batch fed single chamber , resulting in a slight decrease in start-up time when feeding was switched to continuous. Surface engineering is a good strategy to modulate reactor start-up (colonization time), biofilm speciation, and current output of microbial electrochemical cells and provides an additional, key, tool to improve the understanding of bacterial attachment, colonization and growth at electrode surfaces.

The work was done at BERL-Lab Bimolecular Electronics Research Laboratory (National University of Ireland, Galway).

Explore further: Progress Toward a Biological Fuel Cell?

More information: Exploring and Exploiting the Depths of the Microbial Biosphere, July, 2013, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2013/RA/c3ra42953a

Related Stories

Progress Toward a Biological Fuel Cell?

December 30, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Biological fuel cells use enzymes or whole microorganisms as biocatalysts for the direct conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy. One type of microbial fuel cell uses anodes (positive electrodes) ...

Nano-engineering electrodes to give tiny generators a boost

September 21, 2012

Could our waste be part of the answer to humanity's energy problems? Some researchers think so, thanks to bacteria that chow down on everything from sewage to heavy metals and give off electricity as one of their own waste ...

Bacterial boost for clean energy

March 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —Bacteria are often associated with their disease-causing capacity or alternatively, with their role as normal residents of the human body, where they perform duties essential to health.

Bacteria use hydrogen, carbon dioxide to produce electricity

May 20, 2013

Researchers have engineered a strain of electricity-producing bacteria that can grow using hydrogen gas as its sole electron donor and carbon dioxide as its sole source of carbon. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, ...

Recommended for you

New method opens pathway to new drugs and dyes

September 2, 2015

Rice University scientists have developed a practical method to synthesize chemical building blocks widely used in drug discovery research and in the manufacture drugs and dyes.

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Water heals a bioplastic

September 1, 2015

A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.