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Decentralized wastewater treatment using a bioelectrochemical system to produce methane and electricity

TitleDecentralized wastewater treatment using a bioelectrochemical system to produce methane and electricity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCastro C, Srinivasan V, Jack J, Butler CS
JournalJournal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development
Volume7
Issue1
Date Published10/2016
Abstract

Biological electrochemical systems (BESs) have the potential for decentralized treatment in developing countries. A 46 L, two-chamber, hydraulically partitioned microbial fuel cell (MFC) was designed to replicate low-flow scenarios leaving a composting toilet. The co-evolution of electricity and methane in this MFC was evaluated by testing two distinct waste streams: synthetic feces (Case F) and municipal primary effluent (Case W). Oxidation of organic matter was 76 ± 24% during Case F and 67 ± 21% during Case W. Methanogenesis was dominant in the anode, yielding potential power of 3.3 ± 0.64 W/m3 during Case F and 0.40 ± 0.07 W/m3 during Case W. Electrical power production was marginal, Case F = 4.7 ± 0.46 and Case W = 10.6 ± 0.39 μW/m3, although potentially useful in energy-limited areas. Complimentary batch cultivations with anode inocula yielded greater methane production in the presence of graphite. 74 ± 11% more methane was produced with graphite than suspended growth enrichments and 58 ± 10% more than enrichments with non-conductive plastic beads. The co-production of methane and electricity in a MFC may have utility in decentralized treatment. Further work is needed to optimize power from both electricity and methane.

DOI10.2166/washdev.2016.190