Magnetite/zeolite nanocomposite-modified cathode for enhancing methane generation in microbial electrochemical systems

Mung Thi Vu, Md Tabish Noori, Booki Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, magnetite/zeolite (MZ) was successfully synthesized to use as a feasible and cost-effective cathode catalyst for enhancing methane generation in a microbial electrochemical system (MES). The novel MZ catalyst consists of hydrophilic zeolite cores and conductive magnetite nanoparticles for enhanced electroactive biofilm development on the cathode by facilitating micro-channels for nutrient diffusion, increased surface area, and reduced charge transfer resistance. The MES using an MZ cathode (MES-MZ) achieved a maximum methane yield of 0.38 ± 0.010 LCH4/gCOD, which was significantly higher than that of the control operation without a catalyst (0.33 ± 0.008 LCH4/gCOD). The methane production rate was increased by almost 21% from 196 mL/(L.d) in the control MES to 238 mL/(L.d) in the MES-MZ, along with an improvement in the methane percentage from 73% to 79%. In addition, the maximum current generation was recorded using the MES-MZ at 9.29 ± 0.16 mA, which was about 16% higher than that of 8.0 ± 0.13 mA observed in the control reactor and is consistent with about a 36.2% improvement of the Coulombic efficiency. The CV and EIS analyses revealed that MZ lowered the overpotential losses during the electron transfer process, and revealed a more positive cathode potential with the MES-MZ (−0.48 V vs. Ag/AgCl), which possibly suggests direct electron transfer for the dominant pathway for the conversion of carbon dioxide to methane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124613
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Direct electron transfer
  • Electromethanogenesis
  • Magnetite/zeolite nanocomposites
  • Methane yield
  • Microbial electrochemical system


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