SBIR Phase I: Development of advanced biocathode for enhancement of current density of Microbial Fuel Cells

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
MA, Woburn, MA, 01801-6519
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Pei Zhang
(781) 938-5300
Business Contact:
Pei Zhang
(781) 938-5300
Research Institution:

This small Business Innovation Research Phase² project proposes the research of advanced Bio-cathode Microbial Fuel Cell (BcMFC). Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) generates power from renewable energy sources. However, the performance of MFC is mainly limited by cathode. ElectroChem has isolated a novel microorganism, which provides the highest current density on cathode than the other reported microorganisms so far. ElectroChem proposes to develop a BcMFC to drastically reduce cathode limitation and enhance overall performance. The approaches will be to 1) Reduce total free energy of the system for better sorption of the bacteria cells to theelectrode. 2) Provide more available bacteria sorption sites, which govern microbial migration and sorption on the electrode surface but remain compatible with the flow of air and water to and from the cathode. And 3) Adjust the dissolved oxygen concentration on bacteria-electrode interface for faster bacteria metabolic rate and electron transfer rate. With enhanced performance of the BcMFC system, the on site energy supply can be enhanced10 times or more, which will make it feasible for powering many underwater devices. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes more than 16,000 municipal wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs), whose total cost of electricity bill is about 4 billion dollars per year. This can be largely reduced if apply our advanced Bio-Cathode MFC (BcMFC) technique. ElectroChem propose to overcome cathode limitation. The BcMFC, Electrochem proposed, is an ideal technology to generate renewable bio-energy while remove Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) for wastewater treatment plant. For the $1.5 billion marine underwater power supply market, there is a need to have more sustainable and less toxic power supply solution. BcMFC can be fed with seawater and continuously generate energy in long term without causing toxicity issues to the marine environment. It will benefit underwater government agencies or companies to better fulfill their assignments. BcMFC will generate tremendous revenue for multiple industries, solve certain energy supply problems for governments and business companies, benefit environment with less toxicity and reduced CO2 emissions etc. Other than many potential applications, research on BcMFC will improve the knowledge and understanding of the bacteria electrode surface interaction, therefore to be able to explain many important phenomena.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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