Redistribution of wastewater alkalinity with a microbial fuel cell to support nitrification of reject water
Journal article, 2011
In wastewater treatment plants, the reject water from the sludge treatment processes typically contains high ammonium concentrations, which constitute a significant internal nitrogen load in the plant. Often, a separate nitrification reactor is used to treat the reject water before it is fed back into the plant. The nitrification reaction consumes alkalinity, which has to be replenished by dosing e.g. NaOH or Ca(OH)(2). In this study, we investigated the use of a two-compartment microbial fuel cell (MFC) to redistribute alkalinity from influent wastewater to support nitrification of reject water. In an MFC, alkalinity is consumed in the anode compartment and produced in the cathode compartment. We use this phenomenon and the fact that the influent wastewater flow is many times larger than the reject water flow to transfer alkalinity from the influent wastewater to the reject water. In a laboratory-scale system, ammonium oxidation of synthetic reject water passed through the cathode chamber of an MFC, increased from 73.8 +/- 8.9 mgN/L under open-circuit conditions to 160.1 +/- 4.8 mgN/L when a current of 1.96 +/- 0.37 mA (15.1 mA/L total MFC liquid volume) was flowing through the MFC. These results demonstrated the positive effect of an MFC on ammonium oxidation of alkalinity-limited reject water.
Microbial fuel cell