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Nano Energy
Vol. 15, 2015, Pages: 697–708

Regulating the respiration of microbe: A bio-inspired high performance microbial supercapacitor with graphene based electrodes and its kinetic features

Hao Ren, He Tian, Hyung-Sool Lee, Taejin Park, Frederick C. Leung, Tian-Ling Ren, Junseok Chae

School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University, 650 E. Tyler Mall, GWC 302, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.


Toward a carbon neutral renewable energy conversion and storage device, we present a novel bio-inspired microbial supercapacitor, utilizing unique pseudocapacitance formed by exoelectrogen, a specific species of bacteria named Geobacter spp. grown on single-layer graphene film and 3D graphene-scaffold electrodes. Charging and discharging the microbial supercapacitor were performed by regulating the respiration of the exoelectrogen. Substantially high maximum current and power densities, 531.2 A/m2 (1,060,000 A/m3) and 197.5 W/m2 (395,000 W/m3), respectively, are marked. The microbial supercapacitor demonstrates high cycle stability of over 1 million. A specific capacitance of 17.85±0.91 mF/cm2 is demonstrated, which is 4.4 fold to 2 orders of magnitude higher than previously reported supercapacitors having graphene-based electrodes, suggesting a promising alternative energy storage device. Furthermore, the microbial supercapacitor was used to deduce quantitative kinetic parameters of extracellular electron transfer (EET) by fitting discharging curves of the supercapacitor, which is critical to fully understand the EET of Geobacter spp. and determining the rate-limiting mechanism. At the initial-stage biofilm, the acetate turnover is the slowest among individual EET steps, whereas for fully-grown stage biofilm, kinetics of both acetate turnover and electron transfer from inside exoelectrogen to extracellular redox cofactors are rate-limiting. Our results also suggest cytochrome c may not be the main electron storage units of a microbial supercapacitor, regardless of initial- or fully-grown stage biofilms.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Microbial supercapacitor; Bio-inspired materials; Pseudocapacitance; Renewable energy conversion and storage device; 3D graphene scaffold; Single-layer graphene film.

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