Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have gained a lot of attention in recent years as a mode of converting organic waste including low-strength wastewaters and lignocellulosic biomass into electricity.
Microbial production of electricity may become an important form of bioenergy in future because MFCs offer the possibility of extracting electric current from a wide range of soluble or dissolved complex organic wastes and renewable biomass. A large number of substrates have been explored as feed. The major substrates that have been tried include various kinds of artificial and real wastewaters and lignocellulosic biomass.
Though the current and power yields are relatively low at present, it is expected that with improvements in technology and knowledge about these unique systems, the amount of electric current (and electric power) which can be extracted from these systems will increase tremendously providing a sustainable way of directly converting lignocellulosic biomass or wastewaters to useful energy.
This article reviews the various substrates that have been explored in MFCs so far, their resulting performance, limitations as well as future potential substrates.