Iron-rich nanoparticle encapsulated, nitrogen doped porous carbon materials as efficient cathode electrocatalyst for microbial fuel cells

Guolong Lu, Youlong Zhu, Lu Lu, Kongliang Xu, Heming Wang, Yinghua Jin, Zhiyong Jason Ren, Zhenning Liu, Wei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Developing efficient, readily available, and sustainable electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in neutral medium is of great importance to practical applications of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Herein, a porous nitrogen-doped carbon material with encapsulated Fe-based nanoparticles (Fe-Nx/C) has been developed and utilized as an efficient ORR catalyst in MFCs. The material was obtained through pyrolysis of a highly porous organic polymer containing iron(II) porphyrins. The characterizations of morphology, crystalline structure and elemental composition reveal that Fe-Nx/C consists of well-dispersed Fe-based nanoparticles coated by N-doped graphitic carbon layer. ORR catalytic performance of Fe-Nx/C has been evaluated through cyclic voltammetry and rotating ring-disk electrode measurements, and its application as a cathode electrocatalyst in an air-cathode single-chamber MFC has been investigated. Fe-Nx/C exhibits comparable or better performance in MFCs than 20% Pt/C, displaying higher cell voltage (601 mV vs. 591 mV), maximum power density (1227 mW m−2 vs. 1031 mW m−2) and Coulombic efficiency (50% vs. 31%). These findings indicate that Fe-Nx/C is more tolerant and durable than Pt/C in a system with bacteria metabolism and thus holds great potential for practical MFC applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-307
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Volume315
DOIs
StatePublished - May 31 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Keywords

  • Electrocatalyst
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Nitrogen-doped carbon
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • Porous organic polymer

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