4, Polytechnique Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2, University of West of England, Bristol, , United Kingdom
3, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, , South Africa
Water and energy underpin the economic and social development of Countries. Water is needed for each stage of energy production, and energy is crucial for the provision and treatment of water. Within the so-called Water-Energy Nexus, smart and sustainable energy harvesters and storage technologies are required for an efficient managing of water and renewable energy sources. Within this context, microbial fuel cells (MFC) and supercapacitors (SC) are playing a key role. MFCs are bio-electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of wastewater organic compounds directly into electrical energy. SCs can store the energy harvested by the MFC and deliver it back at desired power.
Strategies that lower the environmental and economic impact of disassembly and recycling of waste devices are mandatory. The use of water-processable electrode binders and new membrane production techniques like electrospinning are viable approaches to decrease cost and environmental footprint.
A study on the development of bio-inspired supercapacitors, including natural binders, electrospun separators and eumelanine-based electrodes, as well their integration with MFCs is reported and discussed.
The research has been carried out under the Italy-South Africa joint Research Programme 2018-2020 and the Executive Bilateral Program Italy-Quebec 2017-2019, Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of the Environment.
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