Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


Dr. David Clague


This study demonstrated a technique for fabricating simple, low-cost Paper Microbial fuel cells (PMFC’s) in the model of a previous study to, for the first time, produce voltage from wastewater effluent. The PMFC’s were created by stacking and gluing the main components of an MFC together: reservoir layer; anode; cation exchange membrane (CEM); air cathode. A wax printer was used to create the hydrophobic borders of the PMFC’s on filter paper, and graphite paint was applied to the paper to create the anode. The CEM’s considered were filter paper, wax, and Nafion, with Nafion being the most efficient. Finally, the air cathode was made using carbon veil, and leads (or resistors) were placed in both anode and cathode layers for voltage measurement. Confirming previous studies’ results, the PMFC’s had a rapid startup time and sustained voltage for at least 10 minutes. The study also found that: Nafion was the best CEM; painting one side of the anode had the highest voltage; higher surface area increased voltage; increased time from sampling decreased voltage. Thus, this study proved that the small, low-cost PMFC devices described in previous studies can produce a voltage using primary effluent, and showed that the surface area of the PMFC could be optimized to increase voltage.