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Etude de la mise à l'échelle des piles à combustible microbiennes : collecteurs de courant et hydrodynamique

Abstract : Facing increasing energy needs and limiting their impact on the environment are current and major issues for society. Renewable energy development is needed and new alternative technologies could benefit from exploiting neglected energy sources, such as microbial fuel cells (MFC), for energy production. MFCs can be operated with wastewater and produce a reasonable quantity of energy at the small laboratory-scale. Unfortunately, when their size is increased, their efficiency dramatically decreases, which prevents their industrial use. This thesis aims at identifying some obstacles to scale-up of MFC and proposing new directions for its optimization. The first part of the study was focused on the influence of anodic current collectors on electrical performance and on electroactive biofilm development. Our hypothesis was that they could be a limiting factor for electricity production at large scales. To test this hypothesis, four MFCs were operated with a 490 cm² anode connected to the external circuit in a different ways. Increasing the number of collectors improved the power. Collector’s layout influenced electrical potential on the anode surface and created an electrical potential gradient on the anode and this gradient shaped the microbiological structure of the biofilm. This effect especially concerns Geobacter, whose clade G. metallireducens is favored at strongly negative potentials. In addition, impedance measurements showed that multiplying collectors increased the double layer capacitance and, thus, generated a capacitive current that was important for MFC functioning in cycles of charge/discharge and that would improve its performance. Then, MFCs were considered as bioreactors and their different aspects, notably hydrodynamics, were taken into account to model their power output. Three MFCs of different volumes were operated under continuous-flow conditions and tested at four different flow rates. Configuration, operation and performance data were used to build two multiple linear regression statistical models: the first with variables selection through LASSO, the second with dimensionless numbers created with the Vaschy-Buckingham theorem. These two data-driven models showed that the maximal power was mostly correlated to electrolyte transfer rates inside MFC chamber and to shear stress at the anode generated by fluid movement. These two major experimental projects also showed that the abundance of Geobacter, an electroactive bacteria, inside the biofilm was widespread in MFCs, but it was not correlated to maximal power. Despite its large abundance, its quantity alone does not entirely explain the performance of a MFC. In order to succeed at MFC scale-up, fundamental research on electroactive biofilms, process engineering and modeling need to be associated and generalized as empirical results and their explanation.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - 2:45:06 PM
Last modification on : Monday, September 13, 2021 - 2:44:04 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-01831869, version 2


Agathe Paitier. Etude de la mise à l'échelle des piles à combustible microbiennes : collecteurs de courant et hydrodynamique. Microbiologie et Parasitologie. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSEI107⟩. ⟨tel-01831869v2⟩



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