Lightweight, conductive hollow fibers from nature as sustainable electrode materials for microbial energy harvesting

Hongli Zhu, Heming Wang, Yuanyuan Li, Wenzhong Bao, Zhiqiang Fang, Colin Preston, Oeyvind Vaaland, Zhiyong Ren, Liangbing Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Electrode materials with high specific surface area (area per volume or weight) and high conductivity are crucial for high power generation in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). In this paper, a novel hollow natural fiber template (kapok) is introduced to serve as the MFC anode. Advanced microscopy shows that the unique hollow structure doubles the anode active bacterial colonization surface area and for the first time provides double surfaces for microbial colonization through both internal and external surfaces. The high conductivity of hollow kapok fiber was directly achieved via carbonization. The power density of the anode comprised of carbonized hollow fibers (104.1mW g-1) is orders of magnitude higher than traditional solid fiber electrode (5.5mW g-1) on weight basis. These results demonstrated that with the same amount of material, generally measured in weights in engineering practice, this sustainable natural kapok fiber provides great advantages in improving MFC system performance and reducing cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
JournalNano Energy
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Charge transport
  • Conductive fiber
  • Hollow fiber
  • Low density
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Natural cellulose


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