Percarbonate as a naturally buffering catholyte for microbial fuel cells

Casey Forrestal, Zhe Huang, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Sustainable cathode development has been a challenge for the emerging microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology. This study presents a simple catholyte called sodium percarbonate to serve as a new type of electron acceptor for MFCs. Lab scale comparisons showed sodium percarbonate cathode obtained comparable power density (9.6W/m3) with traditional air-cathode and potassium ferricyanide, but percarbonate showed multiple additional benefits that no other catholyte had demonstrated. Percarbonate has a sustaining natural buffering capacity that can counter pH fluctuations seen in many other systems, and the peroxide produced prevents bio-fouling problems associated with air-cathodes. It is also safer to use and has the lowest cost among popular cathode options based on per mole of electron transferred, which makes it a good candidate for modular system scale up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-432
Number of pages4
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Cathode
  • Catholyte
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Percarbonate


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