Improvement of microbial fuel cell performance by using nafion polyaniline composite membranes as a separator

Nader Mokhtarian, Mostafa Ghasemi, Wan Ramli Wan Daud, Manal Ismail, Ghasem Najafpour, Javed Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The characteristics of four new proton-conducting membranes, Nafion112/polyaniline composite membranes of various compositions, are studied for application as membrane separators in microbial fuel cells. The composite membranes are made by immersing Nafion-112 membranes in a solution containing aniline for different immersion times. The presence of polyaniline and sulfonic functional groups in the composite membranes is confirmed by means of Fourier transform infrared analysis while their surface roughness is determined by using atomic force microscopy prior to microbial fuel cell operation. Biofouling on the membranes' surface is also examined by using a scanning electron microscope after microbial fuel cell operation. The polarization curves and, hence, the power density curves are measured by varying the load's resistance. The power density of the microbial fuel cell with the Nafion/polyaniline composite membranes improves significantly as the amount of polyaniline increases because the interaction between sulfonic groups in the Nafion matrix and polyaniline in the polyaniline domains increases proton conductivity. However, it declines after more polyaniline is added because of less conjugated bonding of polyaniline and sulfonic acid groups for larger polyaniline domains in the Nafion matrix. The voltage overpotential is also smaller as the amount of polyaniline increases. Biofouling also decreases with increasing polyaniline in the Nafion/polyaniline composite membranes because they have smoother surfaces than Nafion membranes. The results show that the maximum power generated by the microbial fuel cells with Nafion112-polyaniline composite membrane is 124.03mV m-2 with a current density of 454.66 mA m-2, which is approximately more than ninefold higher than that of microbial fuel cells with neat Nafion-112. It can be concluded that the power density of the microbial fuel cell can be increased by modifying the Nafion membrane separators with more conductive polymers that are less susceptible to biofouling to improve its proton conductivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041008
JournalJournal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Microbial fuel cells
Composite membranes
Polyaniline
Separators
Membranes
Biofouling
Proton conductivity
perfluorosulfonic acid
polyaniline
Sulfonic Acids
Aniline
Functional groups
Protons
Atomic force microscopy

Keywords

  • Composite membrane
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Nafion
  • Polyaniline
  • Power density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

Cite this

Improvement of microbial fuel cell performance by using nafion polyaniline composite membranes as a separator. / Mokhtarian, Nader; Ghasemi, Mostafa; Wan Daud, Wan Ramli; Ismail, Manal; Najafpour, Ghasem; Alam, Javed.

In: Journal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology, Vol. 10, No. 4, 041008, 2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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