Cation accumulation leads to the electrode aging in soil microbial fuel cells

Xiaojing Li, Yue Li, Xiaodong Zhao, Liping Weng, Yongtao Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The electrode aging in soil microbial fuel cells (MFCs) disturbed the removal of pollutants and sensitivity of electrophysiological signal. Therefore, surveying the causes of aging electrodes could assist to take the prevention measures for remediation and biosensor application of soil MFCs. Materials and methods: The surface morphology, element accumulation on the surface of electrodes, and element migration in soils between electrodes were investigated by scanning electronic microscopy, energy-dispersive spectrometry, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy in a constructed soil MFC. Results and discussion: The rust was observed on the anode, and the soil gypsification was noted on the cathode after a long-term (300-day) contribution of soil MFCs. The major elements (At%) Na and Ca in soils on two electrodes increased by 338–562 and 100–119%, respectively. Beside, Al and Fe of increment (24 and 21%) in the anode and Mg and Fe of augmenter (84 and 155%) in the cathode were detected. Conclusions: The stacking of Ca and Fe besides Na in soils adjacent to electrodes probably led to the electrode corrosion and soil gypsification on the surface of electrodes. Thus, the electrode aging of soil MFCs should be paid more attention in further applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1008
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Cations accumulation
  • Electrode aging
  • Remediation and biosensors application
  • Soil microbial fuel cell

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