Time-course correlation of biofilm properties and electrochemical performance in single-chamber microbial fuel cells

Zhiyong Ren, Ramaraja P. Ramasamy, Susan Red Cloud-Owen, Hengjing Yan, Matthew M. Mench, John M. Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The relationship between anode microbial characteristics and electrochemical parameters in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was analyzed by time-course sampling of parallel single-bottle MFCs operated under identical conditions. While voltage stabilized within 4. days, anode biofilms continued growing during the six-week operation. Viable cell density increased asymptotically, but membrane-compromised cells accumulated steadily from only 9% of total cells on day 3 to 52% at 6. weeks. Electrochemical performance followed the viable cell trend, with a positive correlation for power density and an inverse correlation for anode charge transfer resistance. The biofilm architecture shifted from rod-shaped, dispersed cells to more filamentous structures, with the continuous detection of Geobacter sulfurreducens-like 16S rRNA fragments throughout operation and the emergence of a community member related to a known phenazine-producing Pseudomonas species. A drop in cathode open circuit potential between weeks two and three suggested that uncontrolled biofilm growth on the cathode deleteriously affects system performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-421
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Biofilm
  • Electricity
  • Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy
  • Microbial fuel cell


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