Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Matthew M. Mench

Committee Members

Kivanc Ekici, Feng-Yuan Zhang, Vasilios Alexiades

Abstract

This doctoral dissertation introduces the research in the computational modeling and simulation for the microbial fuel cell (MFC) system which is a bio-electrochemical system that drives a current by using bacteria and mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature. The numerical methods, research approaches and simulation comparison with the experiments in the microbial fuel cells are described; the analysis and evaluation for the model methods and results that I have achieved are presented in this dissertation.

The development of the renewable energy has been a hot topic, and scientists have been focusing on the microbial fuel cell, which is an environmentally-friendly and promising technology. The MFC full cell is a complex system which has different reactions, coupled with mass and electrons transport in bulk liquid. Therefore, this research contains interdisciplinary fields. The methods will be adopted includes: (1) numerical methods (finite volume method/finite difference method/ parallel computation/ multiple step times etc.); (2) computational fluid dynamics method (diffusion equation, Nernst-Planck equation etc.); (3) experimental electrochemical analysis methods; (4) the biological treatment process (biofilm growth, anaerobic/aerobic bacteria etc.). The uniqueness of this work: (1) a comprehensive computational bioelectrochemical fuel cell models was firstly constructed in the research; (2) the primary physical phenomena have been systematically analyzed in both steady and transient states; (3) The simulation evaluated the MFC system which are hardly obtained directly in the experiments. The computational work in MFC modeling achieved four goals: (1) Characterized the primary factors which affect the MFC performance and used them to describe a complex microbial fuel cell model; (2) Derived a series of appropriate electrochemical /biological /chemical reactions equations for the analysis of the mechanics in MFC; (3) Applied computational methods in the model construction and built a series of sub-models for the MFC system; (4) Simulated the models and compared with the experimental results, gave the analysis for the MFC phenomena which are used for optimizing the design of the MFC system.

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