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Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 15;5:18070. doi: 10.1038/srep18070.

A combined system of microbial fuel cell and intermittently aerated biological filter for energy self-sufficient wastewater treatment.

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State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology. No 73 Huanghe Road, Nangang District, Harbin 150090, China.
School of Life Science and Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology. No. 2 Yikuang Street, Nangang District, Harbin 150080, China.


Energy self-sufficiency is a highly desirable goal of sustainable wastewater treatment. Herein, a combined system of a microbial fuel cell and an intermittently aerated biological filter (MFC-IABF) was designed and operated in an energy self-sufficient manner. The system was fed with synthetic wastewater (COD = 1000 mg L(-1)) in continuous mode for more than 3 months at room temperature (~25 °C). Voltage output was increased to 5 ± 0.4 V using a capacitor-based circuit. The MFC produced electricity to power the pumping and aeration systems in IABF, concomitantly removing COD. The IABF operating under an intermittent aeration mode (aeration rate 1000 ± 80 mL h(-1)) removed the residual nutrients and improved the water quality at HRT = 7.2 h. This two-stage combined system obtained 93.9% SCOD removal and 91.7% TCOD removal (effluent SCOD = 61 mg L(-1), TCOD = 82.8 mg L(-1)). Energy analysis indicated that the MFC unit produced sufficient energy (0.27 kWh m(-3)) to support the pumping system (0.014 kWh m(-3)) and aeration system (0.22 kWh m(-3)). These results demonstrated that the combined MFC-IABF system could be operated in an energy self-sufficient manner, resulting to high-quality effluent.

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