Control of microbial fuel cell voltage using a gain scheduling control strategy

Hitesh Boghani, Iain Michie, Richard Dinsdale, Alan Guwy, Giuliano Premier

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Recent microbial fuel cell (MFC) research frequently addresses matters associated with scale and deployability. Modularisation is often needed to reduce ohmic losses with increasing volume. Series/parallel is then often an obvious strategy to enhance power quality during operation, to make best use of generated electricity. Hence, voltage reversal resulting from power and voltage mismatch between cells, become virtually unavoidable. Controlling MFC voltages could be used to stabilise MFC stacks. Here, nonlinear MFCs are controlled using simple gain scheduled Proportional+Integral actions. Parsimonious control may be necessary for implementation in MFC arrays, so minimising costs. Controller parameterisation used several linearised models over the dynamic operating range of the MFCs. Controller gains were then scheduled according to the operating conditions. A digital potentiometer was used to actuate the control, varying the current sourced from the MFC. The results show that the controller was able to control MFC voltages, rejecting the disturbances. It was shown that the controller was transferable between MFCs with different power performances. This study demonstrates that the control of MFCs can be achieved with relatively simple digital approaches, plausibly implementable using low cost microcontrollers, and likely to be useful in the effective deployment of MFCs in large scale arrays
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2016


  • Microbial fuel cells
  • Voltage control
  • Disturbance rejection
  • Gain scheduling


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