Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Jun Yang


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are widely researched for application in wastewater treatment. However, the current anodes used in MFCs often suffer from high fabrication cost and uncontrollable pore sizes. In this thesis, three-dimensional printing technique was utilized to fabricate anodes with different micro pore sizes for MFCs. Copper coating and carbonization were applied to the printed polymer anodes to increase the conductivity and specific surface area. Voltages of MFCs with various anodes were measured as well as other electrochemical tests such as linear sweep voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. 3D copper porous anode produced higher maximum voltages and power densities compared to copper mesh anode, illustrating the advantage of 3D porous structures in MFC application. However, due to copper corrosion, copper anodes presented much lower power output than carbon cloth anode. As carbon materials are known for their chemical stability, relatively good conductivity and excellent biocompatibility, MFCs with 3D carbon porous anodes were thus developed via carbonization, with larger surface area, higher electricity output, lower diffusion resistance and more bacterial biofilm formation compared to carbon cloth anode. This research project is the first application of 3D printing in MFCs and has developed several simple methods of 3D porous anode fabrication.