Feasibility study on a double chamber microbial fuel cell for nutrient recovery from municipal wastewater

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Chemical Engineering Journal, 2019, 358 pp. 236 - 242
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Microbial fuel cell (MFC) is currently considered a promising technology for wastewater treatment. This study aims to evaluate the feasibility of a double-chamber MFC in terms of: (i) operating mode (batch mode, self-circulation mode, single-continuous mode) of anolyte on the nutrient accumulation in the catholyte, (ii) aeration conditions (anode effluent with aeration supplied in catholyte; anode effluent without aeration supplied in catholyte; cathode effluent with aeration supplied in catholyte and cathode effluent without aeration supplied in catholyte) on the nutrient recovery and (iii) types of separators (cation exchange membrane (CEM), forward osmosis (FO), and nonwoven (NW)) to remove nutrients toward their recovery from municipal wastewater. Results showed that there was no negligible increase in the phosphate concentration of the catholyte at the three different modes but accumulation of ammonium. At different aeration conditions, nutrients can be recovered by chemical precipitation at high pH generated by the MFC itself. Basically, phosphate was removed by microbial absorption and recovered by chemical precipitation while ammonium was accumulated by current generation and recovered as precipitates. It was found that double-chamber MFC with the CEM as the separator reported the best nutrients removal with >97.58% of NH4+-N and >94.9% of PO43−-P removed/recovered, followed by the MFC with the nonwoven and FO membrane, respectively. Thus, the double-chamber MFC is feasible for recovering nutrients in a comprehensive bioelectrochemical system.
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