Modular tubular microbial fuel cells for energy recovery during sucrose wastewater treatment at low organic loading rate.Bioresour Technol. 2010 Feb; 101(4):1190-8.BT
Energy recovery while treating low organic loads has been investigated using longitudinal tubular microbial fuel cell (MFC) reactors. Duplicate reactors, each consisting of two modules, were operated with influent sucrose organic loading rates (OLRs) between 0.04 and 0.42 g COD/l/d. Most soluble COD (sCOD) removal occurred in the first modules with predominantly VFAs reaching the second modules. Coulombic efficiency (CE) in the second modules ranged from 9% to 92% which was 3-4 times higher than the first modules. The maximum energy production was 1.75 W h/g COD in the second modules at OLR 0.24 g/l/d, up to 10 times higher than the first modules, attributable to non-fermentable substrate. A simple plug flow model of the reactors, including a generic non-electrogenic reaction competing for acetate, was developed. This modular tubular design can reproducibly distribute bioprocesses between successive modules and could be scalable, acting as a polishing stage while reducing energy requirements in wastewater treatment.