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Title: Performance analysis of bioanode materials and the study of the metabolic activity of Rhodopseudomonas palustris in photo-bioelectrochemical systems
Author: Pankan, Aazraa Oumayyah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 9234
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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A sustainable and low-cost system, namely a photo-bioelectrochemical system (photo-BES), based on the natural blueprint of photosynthetic microorganisms was studied. The aim of this research work is to improve the efficiency of electron transfer of the microorganisms for bioelectricity generation. The first strategy adopted was the evaluation of the exoelectrogenic activity of oxygenic photosynthetic cyanobaterium, Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, in biophotovoltaic (BPV) platforms through a comparative performance analysis of bioanode materials. The second approach involved improving the performance of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacterium, Rhodopseudomonas palustris ATCC® 17001™, by varying the ratio of nitrogen to carbon sources (N:C) to maximise both biohydrogen production and exoelectrogenesis for conversion into bioelectricity in photosynthetic microbial fuel cells (photoMFCs). A linear correlation was obtained between average surface roughness/surface area and maximum power density of ITO-coated and graphene/ITO-coated substrates. Graphene/ITO-coated PET bioanodes produced the highest maximum power output of 29±4 μW m-2 in a single chamber BPV device due to improved biofilm formation and improved electrochemical activity. XG Leaf®, also known as graphene paper, helped to bridge the shortcomings of carbon fibres in terms of wettability. The most hydrophilic, 240 μm thick graphene paper, produced the highest maximum power output of 393±20 μW m-2 in a membrane electrode assembly (MEA)-type BPV device, mainly due to reduced electrochemical polarisation. A proof of concept study compared the performance of screen-printed graphene onto a membrane separator against 3D-printed bioanodes coated with carbon nanotubes. One mm thick 3D-printed bioanode was better performing as its structures promoted a much denser biofilm with extensive fibrous extracellular matrix. Using a ratio of N:C=0.20 resulted in higher biohydrogen production and higher exoelectrogenic activity, generating a maximum power output of 361±157 mW m-2 and 2.39±0.13 mW m-2, respectively. This study provided additional insight in improving the electron transfer efficiency, which could be used to further optimise photo-BESs as part of future research and development for sustainable technologies.
Supervisor: Fisher, Adrian C. Sponsor: Cambridge Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Bioenergy ; Photo-bioelectrochemical systems ; Biophotovoltaic ; Photosynthetic microbial fuel cell ; Bioanode materials ; Nanomaterials ; Synechococcus elongatus ; Rhodopseudomonas palustris ; Biohydrogen ; Bioelectricity