Performance of a pilot scale microbial electrolysis cell fed on domestic wastewater at ambient temperatures for a 12month period

Elizabeth S. Heidrich*, Stephen R. Edwards, Jan Dolfing, Sarah E. Cotterill, Thomas P. Curtis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A 100-L microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) was operated for a 12-month period fed on raw domestic wastewater at temperatures ranging from 1. °C to 22. °C, producing an average of 0.6. L/day of hydrogen. Gas production was continuous though decreased with time. An average 48.7% of the electrical energy input was recovered, with a Coulombic efficiency of 41.2%. COD removal was inconsistent and below the standards required. Limitations to the cell design, in particular the poor pumping system and large overpotential account for many of the problems. However these are surmountable hurdles that can be addressed in future cycles of pilot scale research. This research has established that the biological process of an MEC will to work at low temperatures with real wastewater for prolonged periods. Testing and demonstrating the robustness and durability of bioelectrochemical systems far beyond that in any previous study, the prospects for developing MEC at full scale are enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Volume173
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

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