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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 634738, 8 pages
Research Article

Microbial Fuel Cells for Direct Electrical Energy Recovery from Urban Wastewaters

1Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Architettura (D.I.C.Ar.), Università degli Studi di Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
2Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale e dell’Informazione, Università degli Studi di Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
3Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie “L. Spallanzani,” Università degli Studi di Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy

Received 6 August 2013; Accepted 5 October 2013

Academic Editors: M. P. Marceta Kaninski, T. Morosuk, and P. Pei

Copyright © 2013 A. G. Capodaglio et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Application of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) to wastewater treatment for direct recovery of electric energy appears to provide a potentially attractive alternative to traditional treatment processes, in an optic of costs reduction, and tapping of sustainable energy sources that characterizes current trends in technology. This work focuses on a laboratory-scale, air-cathode, and single-chamber MFC, with internal volume of 6.9 L, operating in batch mode. The MFC was fed with different types of substrates. This study evaluates the MFC behaviour, in terms of organic matter removal efficiency, which reached 86% (on average) with a hydraulic retention time of 150 hours. The MFC produced an average power density of 13.2 mW/m3, with a Coulombic efficiency ranging from 0.8 to 1.9%. The amount of data collected allowed an accurate analysis of the repeatability of MFC electrochemical behaviour, with regards to both COD removal kinetics and electric energy production.