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Biotechnology Advances

Biofouling effects on the performance of microbial fuel cells and recent advances in biotechnological and chemical strategies for mitigation

Md.T.Nooria, M.M.Ghangrekarb, C.K.Mukherjeec, Booki Mina

Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Kyung Hee University, Yongin-Si, Republic of Korea.


The occurrence of biofouling in MFC can cause severe problems such as hindering proton transfer and increasing the ohmic and charge transfer resistance of cathodes, which results in a rapid decline in performance of MFC. This is one of the main reasons why scaling-up of MFCs has not yet been successfully accomplished. The present review article is a wide-ranging attempt to provide insights to the biofouling mechanisms on surfaces of MFC, mainly on proton exchange membranes and cathodes, and their effects on performance of MFC based on theoretical and practical evidence. Various biofouling mitigation techniques for membranes are discussed, including preparation of antifouling composite membranes, modification of the physical and chemical properties of existing membranes, and coating with antifouling agents. For cathodes of MFC, use of Ag nanoparticles, Ag-based composite nanoparticles, and antifouling chemicals is outlined in considerable detail. Finally, prospective techniques for mitigation of biofouling are discussed, which have not been given much previous attention in the field of MFC research. This article will help to enhance understanding of the severity of biofouling issues in MFCs and provides up-to-date solutions. It will be beneficial for scientific communities for further strengthening MFC research and will also help in progressing this cutting-edge technology to scale-up, using the most efficient methods as described here.

Keywords: Biofouling, Cathode catalyst, Microbial fuel cell, Proton exchange membrane, Scale-up.

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