Electricity generation by a plant microbial fuel cell with an integrated oxygen reducing biocathode

K. Wetser, E. Sudirjo, C.J.N. Buisman, D.P.B.T.B. Strik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


In this study we show that a chemical ferricyanide cathode can be replaced by a biological oxygen reducing cathode in a plant microbial fuel cell (PMFC) with a new record power output. A biocathode was successfully integrated in a PMFC and operated for 151 days. Plants growth continued and the power density increased reaching a maximum power output of 679 mW/m2 plant growth area (PGA) in a 10 min polarization. The two week record average power densities was 240 mW/m2 PGA. The new records were reached due to the high redox potential of oxygen reduction which was effectively catalyzed by microorganisms in the cathode. This resulted in a 127 mV higher cathode potential of the PMFC with a biocathode than a PMFC with a ferricyanide cathode. We also found that substrate availability in the anode likely limits the current generation. This work is crucial for PMFC application as it shows that PMFC can be a completely sustainable biotechnology with an improved power output.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-157
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • determine performance
  • living plants
  • reduction
  • oxidation
  • biofilms
  • system


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