Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification in a novel membrane bioelectrochemical reactor with low membrane fouling tendency.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Feb; 24(6):5106-5117.ES
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) can use nitrate as a cathodic electron acceptor for electrochemical denitrification, yet there is little knowledge about how to apply them into current wastewater treatment process to achieve efficient nitrogen removal. In this study, two dual-chamber MFCs were integrated with an aerobic membrane bioreactor to construct a novel membrane bioelectrochemical reactor (MBER) for simultaneous nitrification and denitrification under specific aeration. The effects of chemical oxygen demand (COD) loading rate, COD/N ratio, hydraulic retention time (HRT), and external resistance on the system performance were investigated. High effluent quality was obtained in the MBER in terms of COD and ammonium. During the operation, denitrification simultaneously occurred with nitrification at the bio-cathode of the MBER, achieving a maximal nitrogen removal efficiency of 84.3 %. A maximum power density of 1.8 W/m3 and a current density of 8.5 A/m3 were achieved with a coulombic efficiency of 12.1 %. Furthermore, compared to the control system, the MBER exhibited lower membrane fouling tendency due to mixed liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSSs) and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) reductions, EPSp/EPSc ratio decrease, and particle size increase of the sludge. These results suggest that the MBER holds potential for efficient nitrogen removal, electricity production, and membrane fouling mitigation.