BIOELECTRICITY FROM SUGAR FACTORY EFFLUENT THROUGH A MICROBIAL FUEL CELL IN PRESENCE OF MEDIATORSK. SUBRAMANIAN AND B. SUGANDHRAJ
Electricity generation using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) has drawn much attention in recent years as a new form of renewable bioenergy production and effluent treatment. In this investigation a local sugar factory effluent was chosen as a source of biomass for bioelectricity production, using the microbes viz., Proteus vulgaris, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis through a two compartment laboratory MFC fitted with graphite anode and cathode with 4-5 cm apart. Agar-agar gel with or without a super absorbent polymer loaded with NaNO3 electrolyte was employed as salt bridge for connecting the two compartments. The sugar factory effluent / or synthetic (glucose/sucrose) effluent and PBS buffer were chosen as the anolyte and catholyte respectively. The voltage and current outputs were analyzed for all the three microbes both in the absence and presence of anodic (thionin, neutral red and methylene blue) and cathodic (potassium ferricyanide) mediators in the closed circuit mode. Mediators enhanced the current output. Anode and cathode compartments were maintained in anaerobic and aerobic conditions respectively throughout the experiments. Thionin was found to be a better mediator for P.vulgaris than for the other two microbes. Neutral red was found to be more effective with E.coli and B.subtilis. The results revealed that the biomass of sugar factory effluent can be used for electricity generation through a MFC which may be scaled-up.
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