Application of the finite difference method to model pH and substrate concentration in a double-chamber microbial fuel cell.
The purpose of this study was to develop a mathematical model that can describe glucose degradation in a microbial fuel cell (MFC) with the use of finite difference approach. The dynamic model can describe both substrate and pH changes in the anode chamber of a double-chamber MFC. It was developed using finite differences and incorporates basic mass transfer concepts. Model simulation results could fit the experimental data for substrate consumption well, while there was a moderate discrepancy (maximum 0.11 pH unit) between the simulated pH and the experimental data. A parametric sensitivity analysis showed that increases in acetate and propionate consumption rates can cause great decrease in chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the anode chamber, while an increase in glucose consumption rate does not result in significant changes of COD reduction. Therefore, the rate limitation steps of glucose degradation are the oxidations of secondary degradation products of glucose (acetate and propionate). Due to the buffering effect of the nutrient solution, the increases in glucose, acetate and propionate consumption rates did not result in much change on pH of the anode chamber.
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