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Science of The Total Environment
Vol. 547, 2016, Pages: 197–205

Conversion of orange peel waste biomass to bioelectricity using a mediator-less microbial fuel cell

Waheed Miran, Mohsin Nawaz, Jiseon Jang, Dae Sung Lee

Department of Environmental Engineering, Kyungpook National University, 80 Daehak-ro, Buk-gu, Daegu 41566, Republic of Korea.


Microorganisms have the potential to become a game-changer in sustainable energy production in the coming generations. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as an alternative renewable technology can capture bioenergy (electricity) from carbon-based sources by utilizing microorganisms as biocatalysts. This study demonstrated that MFC technology can be explored for bioelectricity production from orange peel waste (OPW), an agricultural byproduct and an organic substrate, without any chemical pretreatment or the addition of extra mediators. A maximum voltage generation of 0.59 ± 0.02 V (at 500 Ω) was achieved in a dual chamber MFC during stable voltage generation stages. The maximum power density and current density obtained were 358.8 ± 15.6 mW/m2 and 847 ± 18.4 mA/m2, respectively. Key components of OPW, namely pectin and cellulose, were also tested in their pure form, with pectin giving a stable current, while no significant current generation was achieved using cellulose alone as the substrate, thus demonstrating the absence of cellulose-degrading bacteria. Maximum pectinase and polygalacturonase enzyme activities of 18.55 U/g and 9.04 U/g (per gram of substrate), respectively were achieved during orange peel degradation in MFCs. Bacterial identification using 16S rRNA analysis of the initial inoculum fed to the MFC, the biofilm attached to the anode, and the anode suspension, showed significant diversity in community composition. A well-known exoelectrogen, Pseudomonas, was present among the predominant genera in the anode biofilm.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Bioconversion; Waste treatment; Enzyme activity; Microbial growth; Microbial fuel cell; Microbial community.

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