J. Myung, P.E. Saikaly, B.E. Logan
Chemical Engineering Journal, volume 352, pp. 262-267, (2018)
Methane is an abundant and inexpensive feedstock that is available as natural gas and renewable biogas. However, methane has not been regarded as a good substrate for microbial fuel cells (MFCs) due to low power densities. To increase power, a two-step strategy was used based on conversion of methane into methanol, followed by electricity generation using methanol as the substrate in the MFC. To produce methanol, a methane-oxidizing culture was grown in a high phosphate buffer resulting in the accumulation of 350 ± 42 mg/L of methanol. The methanol-fed MFC produced a maximum power density of 426 ± 17 mW/m2. It was also shown that the methanol-rich medium produced from the first step can directly be supplied to the MFCs, removing the need for purification of methanol. Analysis of the microbial community suggests that acetogens first converts methanol into acetate, which is then consumed by exoelectrogens for power generation.