Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are novel bio-electrochemical device for spontaneous or single step conversion of biomass into electricity, based on the use of metabolic activity of bacteria. The design and use of MFCs has attracted considerable interests because of the potential new opportunities they offer for sustainable production of energy from biodegradable and reused waste materials. However, the associated slow microbial kinetics and costly construction materials has limited a much wider commercial use of the technology. In the past ten years, there has been significant new developments in MFCs which has resulted in several-fold increase in achievable power density. Yet, there is still considerable possibility for further improvement in performance and development of new cost effective materials. This paper comprehensively reviews recent advances in the construction and utilization of novel anodes for MFCs. In particular, it highlights some of the critical roles and functions of anodes in MFCs, strategies available for improving surface areas of anodes, dominant performance of stainless-steel based anode materials, and the emerging benefits of inclusion of nanomaterials. The review also demonstrates that some of the materials are very promising for large scale MFC applications and are likely to replace conventional anodes for the development of next generation MFC systems. The hurdles to the development of commercial MFC technology are also discussed. Furthermore, the future directions in the design and selection of materials for construction and utilization of MFC anodes are highlighted.
- Microbial fuel cells
- Stainless steel