Viability study of the use of cast iron open cell foam as microbial fuel cell electrodes.
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Nowadays, the development of new green technologies has been promoted worldwide both by public and private institutions. In this context the research on microbial fuel cells (MFC) represents a promising alternative to carbon based energy sources. Unfortunately, this technology has been always affected by too low current density for allowing an intensive application in the industrial and civil field. The study deals with this limitation and focuses on the implementation of metallic foams, specifically cast iron based, as electrodes, increasing the exposed surface and thus the activity of the bacterial population. The pig iron was selected because of its low toxicity for the microorganisms and their metabolism, however its high melting point carries several problems for the manufacture process. Parallel to this, the realization of electrodes using foamed metals implies further issues related to the generation of correct pores size distribution and adequate bacterial activity. For instance, the metal foams are expected to be open-cell type, so that the mass transport might reach also the inner regions. In order to control these parameters the metal foams are produced by infiltration of cast iron on ceramic beds. Combining the previous data with the measurements of power generation efficiency the authors conclude the study attempting to design MFCs with metal foamed electrodes.