Improved energy recovery from dark fermented cane molasses using microbial fuel cells
Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal, India
A major limitation associated with fermentative hydrogen production is the low substrate conversion efficiency. This limitation can be overcome by integrating the process with a microbial fuel cell (MFC) which converts the residual energy of the substrate to electricity. Studies were carried out to check the feasibility of this integration. Biohydrogen was produced from the fermentation of cane molasses in both batch and continuous modes. A maximum yield of about 8.23 mol H /kg COD was observed in the batch process compared to 11.6 mol H /kg COD in the continuous process. The spent fermentation media was then used as a substrate in an MFC for electricity generation. The MFC parameters such as the initial anolyte pH, the substrate concentration and the effect of pre-treatment were studied and optimized to maximize coulombic efficiency. Reductions in COD and total carbohydrates were about 85% and 88% respectively. A power output of 3.02 W/m was obtained with an anolyte pH of 7.5 using alkali pre-treated spent media. The results show that integrating a MFC with dark fermentation is a promising way to utilize the substrate energy.