Industrial Applications of Polymer Composites

Polymer Composite Membrane for Microbial Fuel Cell Application

Author(s): Kalpana Sharma, Anusha Vempaty, Barun Kumar, Shweta Rai, Vaibhav Raj, Deepak Jadhav and Soumya Pandit *

Pp: 123-145 (23)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815124811123010008

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Energy production is a demanded process in today’s world. Some processes might generate pollutants and other undesirable particulates and toxic chemicals. One such eco-friendly and efficient method for generating electricity and energy can be through fuel cells with the utilization of microbes (bacteria). Such a method can be termed Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). It is a bio-electrochemical system. It uses bacteria and their biochemical processes for generating an electric current, along with oxygen which is a high-energy oxidant. MFCs imitate the bacterial interactions that are found in the nature. Being a cell, it requires electrodes, substrates, and electrolytic solutions. To improve the efficiency of the MFC, we need to separate the anode and cathode into two compartments and the respective reactions taking place. Membranes play a crucial role in achieving it. A membrane not only divides the anode from the cathode but also prevents the entry of oxygen into the anode chamber. The most important function of a membrane is to allow the selective transfer of ions across the two electrode chambers. Membranes can be diaphragms or separators. Porous membranes are commercially used ones usually made of different effective polymer materials. Other important membranes can be semi-permeable and ion-exchange membranes. This chapter mainly reviews the various membranes and the materials used in their structures that have the potential to increase the MFC performance. It also focuses on the different transport processes across the membranes, along with a brief of advances in this technology and future scope. 

Keywords: Ion-exchange, Mass transfer, Materials, Membranes, Microbial fuel cell, Porous separators.

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