Cobalt ferrite microspheres as a biocompatible anode for higher power generation in microbial fuel cells

Muruganantham Rethinasabapathy, A. T.Ezhil Vilian, Seung Kyu Hwang, Sung Min Kang, Youngjin Cho, Young Kyu Han, Jin Kyu Rhee, Yun Suk Huh

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In the present study, spinel cobalt ferrite hierarchical flower-like microspheres (CoFe2O4-MS) are fabricated using a hydrothermal method and utilized as a biocompatible anode in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for power generation. A maximum power density of 1964 mW m−2 is achieved with CoFe2O4-MS in a mediator-less MFC using Escherichia coli as a biocatalyst and glucose as a fuel. The unprecedented power generation by CoFe2O4-MS can be attributed to (i) the morphology of the flower-like CoFe2O4-MS, with a rough surface and large surface area suitable for biofilm formation, (ii) the rapid immobilization of negatively charged E. coli cells on the positively charged CoFe2O4-MS, facilitating stronger bacterial adhesion between the bacterial cells and CoFe2O4-MS, which leads to lower contact resistance and advantageous interfacial properties with rapid electron transfer, and, more importantly, (iii) enhanced interfacial charge transfer due to the presence of multi-valent cations and multiple valence states in the highly electrocapacitive CoFe2O4-MS. Thus, the enrichment of electroactive E. coli on CoFe2O4-MS produces a large number of electron-shuttling endogenous redox mediators, which promotes efficient extracellular electron transfer between E. coli and the electrocapacitive CoFe2O4-MS during the oxidation of the substrate, thus generating higher power output.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229170
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2021

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© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cobalt ferrite
  • Escherichia coli
  • Extracellular electron transfer
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Power density


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