In a microbial bio-electrochemical system, bacteria convert organic matter directly into electrical current. This makes it possible to use the energy content of dissolved organic matter in wastewater to drive electrochemical processes. A bio-electrochemical system consists of two electrodes, an anode and a cathode. Living bacteria oxidize organic matter and transfer electrons to the anode. The electrons flow through an external circuit to the cathode where a compound is reduced. The conditions at the cathode determine the output of the system. For example, we can produce electrical energy, energy-carriers such as hydrogen and methane, and valuable chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and caustic soda.The aim of this research project is to investigate the design, control, and operation of the bio-anode. Depending on the output of the system, we have varying restraints and opportunities for control of the bio-anode. We will use mathematical modelling and laboratory experiments to investigate two types of bio-electrochemical processes. In Type 1, the product at the cathode is in focus and the bio-anode is simply used to lower the energy consumption of the production process. In Type 2, energy recovery from the wastewater is in focus and the goal is to capture as much as possible of the energy bound up in organic matter. This research project will fill an important knowledge gap in the field of bio-electrochemical systems and contribute to the practical application of this new technology.
Professor at Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology
Funding Chalmers participation during 2012–2016