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A microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a renewable energy device in which microorganisms consume organic matters to generate electricity. These devices have potential utility in wastewater treatment facilities to dually clean the water and generate part of the electricity needed for water treatment. The last decade has seen tremendous advancement in MFC technology, but many challenges remain, particularly with improving performance and efficiency of cathodes. The cathode reduces oxygen to water and traditionally has utilized precious metals as the primary catalytic compound. In these studies, the precious metal in the cathode has been replaced with alternative catalysts, cobalt porphyrins. Porphyrins may serve as an effective, low cost oxygen reducing catalyst capable of operating in air-cathode MFCs. Here, a cobalt-porphyrin complex compounded with carbon black support (porphyrin/C) was fabricated into an air-cathode for the MFC and its performance was tested. Various porphyrin loading densities were investigated in order to determine the optimal catalyst loading as determined by power production in MFCs. The cathodes were further examined by polarization curves and voltammetry tests to exam electrochemical performance of the cathodes.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Donald A. Comfort

Primary Advisor's Department

Bioengineering, Chemical and Materials Engineering


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