Abstract

Microscale microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are attractive, due to small size, light weight, and potentially low cost, suitable for applications demanding miniaturized carbon-neutral and renewable energy sources to power lowpower electronics and implantable medical devices. The power density of microscale MFCs has enhanced significantly in the past decade, yet the scaling effect on microscale MFCs has not been addressed effectively. This review offers how the scaling impacts the power density of microscale MFCs via mass transfer, reaction kinetics, surface area to volume ratio, and internal resistance. The power density, especially volumetric power density, increases as scaling down the characteristic length of MFCs due to fast mass transfer, fast reaction kinetics, and high surface area to volume ratio, suggesting that microscale MFCs have large potential to improve further. Yet several challenges, including high internal resistance, incompatibility with microfabrication and inefficient extracellular electron transfer due to oxygen leakage need to be adequately addressed. These challenges, along with potential mitigations are discussed in detail in this review. If these challenges are mitigated appropriately, microscale MFCs may become one of the attractive alternatives as miniaturized carbon-neutral renewable power sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-381
Number of pages29
JournalMicrofluidics and Nanofluidics
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Fingerprint

Microbial fuel cells
fuel cells
microbalances
radiant flux density
scaling
Reaction kinetics
mass transfer
reaction kinetics
Carbon
Mass transfer
incompatibility
renewable energy
carbon
Microfabrication
energy sources
Power electronics
electron transfer
leakage
Oxygen
Electrons

Keywords

  • Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS)
  • Microbial fuel cell (MFC)
  • Portable power source
  • Power density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Materials Chemistry

Cite this

Miniaturizing microbial fuel cells for potential portable power sources : Promises and challenges. / Ren, Hao; Lee, Hyung Sool; Chae, Junseok.

In: Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, Vol. 13, No. 3, 09.2012, p. 353-381.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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