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Author(s): Alka Kaushik*1, S.K. Jadhav2



    1Department of Botany, Fanikeshwar Nath Govt. College, Fingeshwar, Gariyaband, Chhattisgarh, India
    2School of Studies in Biotechnology, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India
    *Corresponding Author Email-

Published In:   Volume - 4,      Issue - 2,     Year - 2022

Cite this article:
Alka Kaushik, S.K. Jadhav (2022) Efficiency of food waste as fuel source in Microbial Fuel Cell: A review. NewBioWorld A Journal of Alumni Association of Biotechnology, 4(2):31-35.

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 NewBioWorld A Journal of Alumni Association of Biotechnology (2022) 4(2):31-35            


Efficiency of food waste as fuel source in Microbial Fuel Cell: A review

Alka Kaushik1*, S.K. Jadhav2

1Department of Botany, Fanikeshwar Nath Govt. College, Fingeshwar, Gariyaband, Chhattisgarh, India

2School of Studies in Biotechnology, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India

Author’s Email-,

*Corresponding Author Email-




Article history:


05 October 2022

Received in revised form

18 November 2022


28 December 2022


Solid microbial fuel cell;

Food waste;



This review article discussed about the food waste as a source of bioelectrical energy. Every year the global energy demand increases. While petroleum products currently supply much of this demand, the increasing difficulty of sustained supply and the associated problems of pollution and global warming creates unbalanced energy management and require power sources that are able to sustain for longer periods. Renewable energy generation and waste disposal are two key challenges for the sustainability of future societies. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as an alternative renewable technology can run in solid phase and capture bioelectricity from food waste. Food waste being readily available is found to be the potential source for bioelectricity production by optimizing several important factors are optimized, such as the type, number and quality of electrodes, type and amount of substrate, microorganism community, system configuration, and different parameters which increases the amount of electricity generated. Solid microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) were reported to produce relatively small amounts of energy compared with other substrates, but SMFCs are still promising to achieve energy requirement of the future. So this review demonstrates the works of different scientist who potentially produced bioelectricity and looking further for improvements.



DOI: 10.52228/NBW-JAAB.2022-4-2-6

Energy demand is increasing day by day as the world population has grown, owing to our dependency upon fossil fuels, such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas, which is a non-renewable source of energy and also poses negative effect on environment. Concerns about increased global energy demand, finite natural resources and environmental issues, are thus intensifying the search for sustainable alternative source of energy which is clean, renewable and eco-friendly and is alternatives to fossil fuels and help to maintain the sustainable growth of society (Venkata mohan et al. 2008). Renewable energy includes energy from sunlight, rain, wind, hydropower and fuel cells. They all are considered a new ways to resolve the current energy requirement problem. Microbial fuel cells (MFC) are unique bio-electrochemical catalyzed system which oxidizes biodegradable organic matter by utilizing metabolic activity of fermentative bacteria as a catalyst and generates electrical energy by transferring electron to electrodes under mild reaction conditions (Venkata mohan et al. 2008). The future of energy sustainability and supply is likely to rely on renewable energy sources. The generation of bioelectricity by using newest type of novel technologies and renewable eco-friendly fuel is an overall priority in terms of energy adequacy. Also, it is a novel and practical technology with the ability to convert the organic waste directly to bioelectricity. This advantage has attracted many scientists’ interest to develop and improve several MFC designs using different types of substrate for the living biocatalysts. Among the substrates, a wide variety of food wastes have been investigated to date.

In a report it was estimated that by 2050, World waste production would be approximately 27 billion tonnes per year. Out of which, the one-third will come from Asia, with major contributions from China and India (Kumar et al. 2017). A total of 133760 tonnes of MSW was generated per day in India, out of which approximately 91152 tonnes is collected and approximately 25884 tonnes is treated (Kumar et al. 2017). It was reported that in 2025 about 0.7 kg waste per person will be produced which is approximately four to six times higher than the production of waste in 1999. The reason behind this increment is associated with the size of communities which keep on increasing day by day (Kumar et al. 2014). Approximately 170 000 tonnes waste were produced in urban areas of India per day, which is equivalent to about 62 million tonnes per year, and due to increase in population and changing life style this is expected to increase by 5% per year (Kumar et al. 2017). In 2001 the Urban India generated 31.6 million tonnes of waste and by 2017 it reaches upto 47.3 million tonnes. It was predicted to show a fivefold increase in four decades with estimated generation of 161 million tonnes by 2041 (Kumar et al. 2017). Due to urbanization and changes in life style it was found that one-third of the food is wasted from various sectors like domestic and industrial sectors (Kumar et al. 2022). Also, municipal waste contain large amount of food waste from many different places like restaurants, hotels, household waste etc. these solid waste were dumped and when composed with different conventional method like incineration and landfills it causes air pollution along with water and soil. To overcome this problem MFC provides an eco-friendly and sustainable solution.

A basic structure of Microbial Fuel Cell contains two compartments (Anodic and Cathodic) connected to each other with a semi permeable membrane internally and by an electric circuit from outside. Electrons and protons are generated in the anodic compartment by microbes. External circuit arrangement helps in transfer of electron to cathode compartment and to close the cycle, protons migrate through a membrane (PEM) or agar salt bridge (Logan et al. 2006). In cathode compartment, electrons and protons are combined to oxidize oxygen into water. Since microbes play a major role in the transfer of electrons from substrate to the anode, selection of a high-performing microbial culture (either pure or mixed) is of prime importance. Micro-organisms e.g.  Shewanella  putrefaciens  (Kim  et  al.  1999) and   Rhodoferax  ferrireducens  (Chaudhuri and Lovley 2003) along with Anodophilic bacteria from the families of, Desulfuromonaceae, Enterobacteriaceae, and Clostridiaceae are reported to produce bioelectricity (Angenent et. al. 2004). In the anodic compartment, organic matter is oxidized by microbial metabolism, which transfers the electrons to the anode then the electron is transferred to the cathode side for the reduction of oxygen or any other electron acceptor. In the cathodic compartment, oxygen or other oxidized compounds are reduced in a neutral pH medium (Kim et al. 2007).Using more effective catholytes than oxygen, such as ferricyanide, can substantially increase power output. The high internal resistance in MFCs still limits the maximum power density produced during operation (Logan and Regan 2006). This technology is a emerging field of science in which various types of MFC have been compared in terms of various parameters.

Literature Review

 Currently, bioelectricity can be produced from many compounds, such as pure chemicals, nuclear, fruit and vegetable wastage, solar, wind energy and even from wastewater (Logan and Regan 2006). In our energy-based society, the values of any energy-rich materials are increasing. Characteristics and components of waste material are the factors that affect its capacity and economic viability of converting organic waste into bioenergy (Pant et al. 2010). The main thing which generally affects is concentration and chemical composition of the substrates. Substrate plays an important role because it provides carbon as nutrient and energy source. Various biodegradable organic material such as waste water (dairy industry, pulp industry, paper industry and polluted water from cities and house hold), cow dung, cow dung manure etc can generate bioelectricity with the help of electrogenic bacteria (Sukkasema et al. 2008).

 In a study, Sathyamoorthy and Sushmitha (2022) reported a highest power density of 21.36W/m3   with effluent mud and 14.01W/m3 with food waste from actively working sewage treatment plant in a dual chambered MFC. Rahman et al. (2021) has operated MFC with fruit extract of orange, banana and mango. Among them orange product is able to give a highest voltage output of 357mV. They also used glucose as fuel for as reference data at different temperature and reported that MFC can be successfully operated between 28 °C and 60 °C. Masud et al. (2021) worked on three different combination of electrode material with food waste as fuel and observed the MFC for 10 hours. They found that Copper-copper setup produces maximum of 0.9362 V. Tremouli et al. (2021) reported a high COD removal of approx 85% when a MFC is operated in a batch mode with extracts from fermentable household food waste (FORBI). Also a maximum bioelectricity yield of 2.6 mJ/gCOD/L was recorded when they are connected in series combination. Prasidha and Majid (2020) uses food waste leachate as fuel for operating non-aerated and aerated double chamber microbial fuel cells continuously for 30 days at open (OCV) and closed circuit (CCV) conditions. For non-aerated MFC, 373 mV is produced at the 1st day and for aerated MFC, the maximum OCV of 404 mV was produced at 7th day. Florio et al. (2019)  fed anodic chamber with organic fraction of municipal waste in a single chamber set up and was ran for 4 weeks and the maximum power density was found out to be 1.98 mW/m2 kg, and a columbic efficiency ηC∼5%. pH of the slurry was maintained at 6.8 ± 0.9 along the experiment. Xin et al. (2018) used a cylinder-type air-cathode single chamber MFC in order to treat food waste which was collected from a university canteen. In his experiment COD removal of 90% with maximum power of 0.173 W/m2 was reported. Moharir and Tembhurka (2018) collected kitchen waste from hostel mess of an educational institution and investigated the effect of recirculation of anolyte on bioelectricity generation in a two-chamber MFC. The maximum power generated was 29.23 mW/m2 while COD removal was 66%. Wang and Lim (2017) made an air cathode MFC with food waste leachate as fuel. They reported a voltage of about 270 mV with external resistor. A good COD removal was also reported by them. Samudro et al. (2017) reported a power density of 4 mW/m2 and COD removal efficiency performance up to 70% were reached at days 11 and that is reached upto 87.67% of COD removal and power density of approximately 4.71 mW/m2 by using leaves litter, canteen and composite waste with not any maintenance of pH and temperature.

Singh et al. (2016) used three MFCs with glucose, hydrolyzed potato peel and hydrolyzed cyanobacterial biomass substrates which are mediatorless, without catalyst, membraneless, with different carbon source, single chambered and operated in batch mode. Among them hydrolyzed cyanobacterial biomass was found to be the favorable substrate for electricity production with maximum power density of 16.46 mW/m2 at 62.48mA/m2. Chiu et al. (2016) reported a higher maximal power density of 20.12 and 30.47 mW m-2 for 1.5 and 4 L, respectively with two-chamber microbial fuel cells through carbon felt and carbon felt allocation. It was also observed that two chambered MFCs of 1.5 and 4 L had a higher maximal power density than single-chamber ones. Municipal solid waste may generate a power density of 1817.88 mW m-2 when K3Fe(CN)6 is used as an electron acceptor and alkali hydrolysis pre-treatment was  done. Khudzari et al. (2016) uses carbon felt as anodes and manganese dioxide as cathodes with 500 mL compost in MFCs. The cMFC was operated up to 97 days at 20–23 °C. It shows a maximum power density of 71.43 mW/m3 with more favorable condition (low C/N ratio) for microbial growth. They also reported a important finding that High-saline condition in MFCs generate low power, indicating that their level of salinity (10 g/L of NaCl) inhibit the growth of bioelectrogenic microorganisms. Moqsud et al. (2015) used kitchen and yard waste which was rice plant included and he performed it in single chamber MFC with carbon fiber both as anode and cathode and the maximum voltage generated was around 700 mV when 1% compost mixed soil was used with a rice plant with and maximum power density turned out to be 39.2 mW/m2 per anode specific surface area. Wang et al. (2015) used Rice husks, soybean residue, coffee residue, and leaf mold as substrate for MFC or SMFC (solid microbial fuel cell) in a single chamber MFC with a proper carbon/nitrogen ratio and the moisture content displayed for most significant result of SMFCs. A Maximum power density of 4.6 mW/m2 per anode specific surface area was recorded when the moisture content is 60%, pH value of 6–8 and carbon/nitrogen ratio is 31.4 for a SMFC. Moqsud et al. (2014) used Kitchen garbage and bamboo waste (glucose) as fuel for single chamber setup and carbon fibre as electrodes.  The voltage was recorded in every 20 min by using a data-logger recorder for 45 days at room temperature. They inoculated mixed anaerobic culture so the maximum power density obtained was 60 mW/m2 per anode specific surface area. Moqsud et al. (2013) used Grass cuttings, leaf mold, rice bran, oil cake, and chicken droppings in a dual chamber setup and the maximum power density was 394 mW/m2 per cathode specific surface area. Mansooriana et al. (2013) investigated bioelectricity generation from microbial fuel cells while treating food processing wastewater. In this method, a two-compartment MFC with aerobic cathode and anaerobic anode separated via a proton exchange membrane was used. The maximum current density of 527 mA/m2 and power production of 230 mW/ m2 was measured. Khare and Bundela (2013) reported a maximum voltage of 385 mV at day five through single chamber MFC with waste water of biscuit factory mixed with vermicompost. Lokeshwari et al. (2012) generated electricity from kitchen garbage and analyzed rapid increase in voltage at a time and further decreased due to reduction in enzyme activity. Tiwari et al. (2008) has reported the effect of nitrogen sources like paper waste, dried and fresh leaves and fruit peels on production capacity of MFC. They found that in the presence of nitrogen source, the bacterium produced an average of 0.5 V with 750 ml medium whereas without nitrogen source the average electricity was 0.3 V which decreased with each passing day.


Bioenergy in the form of bioelectricity from renewable and waste biomass through MFCs have great development potential in terms of energy self-sufficiency. Nowadays, Microbial Fuel Cell is a new innovative method, with an attractive, cost-effective and renewable source of energy. The MFC methodology converts the organic and inorganic substrate into bioelectric energy through an anaerobic process. The effectiveness of the process depends on various aspects like sources of waste (domestic or industrial, solid or liquid) as a foundation of organic and inorganic substrate which are efficiently transformed into electrical energy. Different methods and rules of MFC have been utilized to improve the effectiveness of the MFC and diminish the boundaries in the MFC. This review shows the maximum power generation from MFC with the use of food waste which depends on various factors such as design, PH, anodes, cathode and their surface area related to surface area of PEM and it also varies for different microorganisms. Selection of microorganism and fuel is the key factor to the generation of bioelectricity.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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