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Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a developing technology that breaks down organic materials in liquids while generating electricity. They come in several forms and applications, including: micro-sized for medical implants, sediment for remote sensing and communications, and large-scale for industrial or environmental remediation. Few studies have looked at MFCs operating over 45ºC. Use of extremophiles as the fuel cell culture allows for high-temperature applications including industry, deserts, and alien space environments. This project includes the construction and operation of a membrane-less single chamber microbial fuel cell (ML-SCMFC), using the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus at about 80°C. The volcanic spring native S. solfataricus was used within a MFC to demonstrate feasibility of an extremely high temperature MFC and characterize the electrical power parameters from this device. A maximum power density of 25.26 mWm-3 was obtained using a carbon cloth anode and cellobiose as the substrate. Maximum sustained current densities ranging from 5.63 and 39.9 mAm-2 persisted for 15-30 hour durations. Continued modifications can potentially improve observed values, including new substrates, inclusion of separators and new anode materials.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Donald A. Comfort

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium poster

Electricity Generation using Sulfolobus solfataricus in a High-Temperature Microbial Fuel Cell