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Heat-Treated Stainless Steel Felt as a New Cathode Material in a Methane-Producing Bioelectrochemical System

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journal contribution
posted on 12.10.2017, 00:00 by Dandan Liu, Tianye Zheng, Cees Buisman, Annemiek ter Heijne
Methane-producing bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) are a promising technology to convert renewable surplus electricity into the form of storable methane. One of the key challenges for this technology is the search for suitable cathode materials with improved biocompatibility and low cost. Here, we study heat-treated stainless steel felt (HSSF) for its performance as biocathode. The HSSF had superior electrocatalytic properties for hydrogen evolution compared to untreated stainless steel felt (SSF) and graphite felt (GF), leading to a faster start-up of the biocathodes. At cathode potentials of −1.3 and −1.1 V, the methane production rates for HSSF biocathodes were higher than the SSF, while its performance was similar to GF biocathodes at −1.1 V and lower than GF at −1.3 V. The HSSF biocathodes had a current-to-methane efficiency of 60.8% and energy efficiency of 21.9% at −1.3 V. HSSF is an alternative cathode material with similar performance compared to graphite felt, suited for application in methane-producing BESs.