Statistical study of the influence of the geometric distribution of the cathode in the production of electrical energy in a sediment microbial fuel cell
Keywords:Microbial sediment fuel cell, River sediments, Electrode design, Bioelectricity, Advanced statistical techniques
The negative impact on the environment by the exploitation and generation of energy from fossil fuels imposes the need to search for new sources of renewable and sustainable energy. Sediment Microbial Fuel Cells (S-MFC) are a developing technology to produce bioelectricity. Some microorganisms present in sediments of river environments can produce electrons during the biochemical reactions of their metabolism. One of the fundamental aspects in the efficiency of a S-MFC are the electrodes of the bioreactor. The present investigation focused on the study and statistical demonstration of the influence of the cathode design of a S-MFC on the production of bioelectricity from river sediments. Two cathodes of an undivided CCM-S were designed. The electrodes were made of Unidirectional Carbon Fiber (UCF). The total anode area was 81 cm2, the evaluated cathodes had areas of 81 cm2 and 40.5 cm2. Sediment and water samples were collected from the Culiacán River. The total working volume was 1500 mL. Two S-MFC were studied, in the first bioreactor the cathode was placed vertically and completely submerged in the working electrolyte, while the cathode of the second cell was placed horizontally and partially submerged. The electric potential difference produced by both cells for 40 days was determined. An advanced ANOVA was performed to compare the means of the voltage distributions. The results showed that it is possible to obtain electrical energy from river sediments. Maximum voltage values of 513 mV and 664.7 mV were obtained for cells 1 and 2, respectively, showing that the arrangement of the cathode in the cell influences the energy produced. The advanced statistical study verified that there are significant differences between the means of the voltage distributions of both cells, with a p-value of 0.01 with a confidence level of 95%.
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