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Carbon nanotubes for microbial fuel cell

Fuel cell
A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device that converts the chemical energy from fuel (on the anode side) and oxidant (on the cathode side) directly into electricity. The heart of fuel cell is the electrodes. The performance of a fuelcell electrode can be optimized in two ways; by improving the physical structure and by using more active electro catalyst. A good structure of electrode must provide ample surface area, provide maximum contact of catalyst, reactant gas and electrolyte, facilitate gas transport and provide good electronic conductance. In this fashion the structure should be able to minimize losses.
Microbial fuel cell
Microbial fuel cell is a device in which bacteria consume water-soluble waste such as sugar, starch and alcohols and produces electricity plus clean water. This technology will make it possible to generate electricity while treating domestic or industrial wastewater. Microbial fuel cell can turn different carbohydrates and complex substrates present in wastewaters into a source of electricity. The efficient electron transfer between the microorganism and the anode of the microbial fuel cell plays a major role in the performance of the fuel cell.
The organic molecules present in the wastewater posses a certain amount of chemical energy, which is released when converting them to simpler molecules like CO2. The microbial fuel cell is thus a device that converts the chemical energy present in water-soluble waste into electrical energy by the catalytic reaction of microorganisms.
Carbon nanotubes (CNT)
This is made possible by carbon nanotubes. CNTs have chemical stability, good mechanical properties and high surface area, making them ideal for the design of sensors and provide very high surface area due to its structural network. Since carbon nanotubes are also suitable supports for cell growth, electrodes of microbial fuel cells can be built using of CNT.
Due to three-dimensional architectures and enlarged electrode surface area for the entry of growth medium, bacteria can grow and proliferate and get immobilized. Multi walled CNT scaffolds could offer self-supported structure with large surface area through which hydrogen producing bacteria (e.g., E. coli) can eventually grow and proliferate. Also CNTs and MWCNTs have been reported to be biocompatible for different eukaryotic cells. The efficient proliferation of hydrogen producing bacteria throughout an electron conducting scaffold of CNT can form the basis for the potential application as electrodes in MFCs leading to efficient performance.

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