Open circuit versus closed circuit enrichment of anodic biofilms in MFC: Effect on performance and anodic communities

Amor Larrosa-Guerrero*, Keith Scott, Krishna P. Katuri, Carlos Godinez, Ian M. Head, Thomas Curtis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The influence of various carbon anodes; graphite, sponge, paper, cloth, felt, fiber, foam and reticulated vitreous carbon (RVC); on microbial fuel cell (MFC) performance is reported. The feed was brewery wastewater diluted in domestic wastewater. Biofilms were grown at open circuit or under an external load. Microbial diversity was analysed as a function of current and anode material. The bacterial community formed at open circuit was influenced by the anode material. However at closed circuit its role in determining the bacterial consortia formed was less important than the passage of current. The rate and extent of organic matter removal were similar for all materials: over 95% under closed circuit. The biofilm in MFCs working at open circuit and in the control reactors, increased COD removal by up to a factor of nine compared with that for baseline reactors. The average voltage output was 0.6 V at closed circuit, with an external resistor of 300 kΩ and 0.75 V at open circuit for all materials except RVC. The poor performance of this material might be related to the surface area available and concentration polarizations caused by the morphology of the material and the structure of the biofilm. Peak power varied from 1.3 mW m-2 for RVC to 568 mW m-2 for graphite with biofilm grown at closed circuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1699-1713
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anode
  • Bacteria selection
  • Carbon materials
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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