Enhancing bioelectricity generation of bio-electrochemical reactors using porous nickel-based composite as effective oxygen reduction catalyst

Meng Li, Yan Wen Li, Xiao Long Yu, Lei Xiang, Hai Ming Zhao, Jian Fang Yan, Nai Xian Feng, Mingyi Xu, Quan Ying Cai, Ce Hui Mo*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Microbial fuel cell as a sustainable microbial-electrochemical reactor can harvest bio-power from wastewater by the oxidation of electro-active bacteria on the anode, while its power output is greatly relying on the oxygen reduction reaction performance of the cathode electro-catalysts. Here, the dahlia flower-like nickel-based composites have been synthesized through a hydrothermal reaction, and was used as an efficient oxygen reduction reaction catalyst in a single chamber microbial fuel cell. The physical characterization of surface structure suggests the composites have successfully prepared. The MFC with Ni-melamine cathode can achieve obviously higher power density of 378.08 mW m−2 than those of Ni-urea cathode (244.02 mW m−2) and Ni-dicyandiamide cathode (201.67 mW m−2). A series of electrochemical characterization suggests that Ni-melamine electrode possesses larger electrochemical active surface area, lower charge transfer resistance, and higher oxygen reduction performance than those of Ni-urea electrode and Ni-dicyandiamide electrode. The electrochemical measurements have also demonstrated that nickel-melamine composites can be involved in oxygen reduction reaction via a four-electron route due to the high-efficient electrocatalytic activity. In addition, the maximum power density of nickel-based composites is obviously increased with an increase of catalysts coating amounts. When the loading amounts are 4 mg cm−2, the power density for nickel-based composites is improved to 1421.4 mW m−2, which is 1.68 times higher than that of Pt/C due to the introduction of oxygen vacancies and nitrogen element. Thus, nickel-based composite is an effective and promising catalyst material for microbial fuel cell to substitute Pt/C for oxygen reduction reaction application.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number124137
    JournalJournal of cleaner production
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Microbial fuel cells
    • Nickel-based composites
    • Oxygen reduction performance
    • Stability


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