Identifying charge and mass transfer resistances of an oxygen reducing biocathode

A. ter Heijne, O. Schaetzle, S. Gimenez, F. Fabregat-Santiago, J. Bisquert, D.P.B.T.B. Strik, F. Barrière, C.J.N. Buisman, H.V.M. Hamelers

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this study, we identified mass and charge transfer resistances for an oxygen reducing biocathode in a microbial fuel cell (MFC) by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The oxygen reducing biocathode was grown using nitrifying sludge as the inoculum. A standard model for charge transfer at the electrode surface combined with diffusion across a boundary layer was used. EIS measurements were performed under variation of both linear flow velocities and cathode potentials. Fitting the impedance data to the standard model at constant potential and different flow rates confirmed that increasing flow rate had no effect on charge transfer resistance, but led to a decrease in mass transfer resistance. From the variation in cathode potential at constant flow rate, a minimum in charge transfer resistance was found at 0.28 V vs. Ag/AgCl. The minimum in charge transfer resistance could be explained by the combined biochemical and electrochemical kinetics typical for bioelectrochemical systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5035-5043
JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • microbial fuel-cells
  • anode-respiring bacteria
  • performance
  • electrodes
  • biofilm
  • mechanism
  • graphite
  • model


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