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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Nov 1;44(21):8259-63. doi: 10.1021/es101858f.

Reduction of pH buffer requirement in bioelectrochemical systems.

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  • 1Sub-Department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, Bomenweg 2, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Low pH buffer capacity of waste streams limits further development of bioelectrochemical systems (BES) because accumulation of protons potentially leads to acidification of the anodic biofilm. Here we introduce a system that makes it possible to recover alkalinity in an extra recovery compartment. The system consisted of this extra compartment which was located between anode and cathode compartment. The compartment was separated from the anode by a cation exchange membrane and from the cathode by an anion exchange membrane, which made clean hydrogen production possible. To compensate for the charge movement as a result of the flow of electrons, both cations and hydroxyl ions moved into the new recovery compartment. When a synthetic waste stream was fed through this recovery compartment, both pH and conductivity increased. When this stream is then fed to the anode of the BES, no additional buffer was required to produce the same current (3.5 A/m(2)) at an applied voltage of 1 V.

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