In situ synthesis of polypyrrole on graphite felt as bio-anode to enhance the start-up performance of microbial fuel cells

  • Kai-Bo Pu
  • Chuan-Xu Lu
  • Kai Zhang
  • He Zhang
  • Qing-Yun Chen
  • Yun-Hai WangEmail author
Research Paper



This study introduces an effective method to deposit polypyrrole (PPy) on graphite felt (GF) as anode to improve the start-up performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). The results of scanning electron microscope (SEM) and electrochemical testing reveal that polypyrrole is able to improve the electrical conductivity and surface roughness, which is beneficial to the microorganism attachment and growth. It shows that microorganisms grow faster on polypyrrole-modified anode than on unmodified anode. It takes ca. 5 days for polypyrrole-modified anode to reach a reproducible voltage platform, while it takes 11 days for unmodified anode. Moreover, the maximum power density of microbial fuel cells with polypyrrole-modified anode was 919 mW m−2, which were 2.3 times of that with unmodified anode. This research revealed that polypyrrole modification can improve the start-up performance of microbial fuel cells. It is considered as a feasible, economical and sustainable anode.

Graphic abstract

Article highlights

  • Polypyrrole was deposited on graphite via in situ electrochemical polymerization.

  • The start-up time with PPy/GF anode was half less than that with GF anode.

  • The power output with PPy/GF anode was 2.3 times higher than that with GF anode.


Start-up Graphite felt Anode modification PPy Microorganisms 



This work was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 21878242 and 21828802).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors certify that there is no conflict of interest with any individual/organization for the present work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai-Bo Pu
    • 1
  • Chuan-Xu Lu
    • 1
  • Kai Zhang
    • 2
  • He Zhang
    • 1
  • Qing-Yun Chen
    • 2
  • Yun-Hai Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and EngineeringXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Multiphase Flow in Power EngineeringXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina

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