Here, we report a comparative study on the kinetic activity of various anodes of a recently described microbial fuel cell consisting of an anode imbedded in marine sediment and a cathode in overlying seawater. Using plain graphite anodes, it was demonstrated that a significant portion of the anodic current results from oxidation of sediment organic matter catalyzed by microorganisms colonizing the anode and capable of directly reducing the anode without added exogenous electron-transfer mediators. Here, graphite anodes incorporating microbial oxidants are evaluated in the laboratory relative to plain graphite with the goal of increasing power density by increasing current density. Anodes evaluated include graphite modified by adsorption of anthraquinone-1,6-disulfonic acid (AQDS) or 1,4-naphthoquinone (NQ), a graphite-ceramic composite containing Mn2+ and Ni2+, and graphite modified with a graphite paste containing Fe3O4 or Fe3O4 and Ni2+. It was found that these anodes possess between 1.5- and 2.2-fold greater kinetic activity than plain graphite. Fuel cells were deployed in a coastal site near Tuckerton, NJ (USA) that utilized two of these anodes. These fuel cells generated ca. 5-fold greater current density than a previously characterized fuel cell equipped with a plain graphite anode, and operated at the same site.
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