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The effects of wastewater types on power generation and phosphorus removal of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) with activated carbon (AC) cathodes

Santoro, Carlo; Babanova, Sofia; Artyushkova, Kateryna; Atanassov, Plamen; Greenman, John; Cristiani, Pierangela; Trasatti, Stefano; Schuler, Andrew J.; Li, Baikun; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Carlo Santoro

Sofia Babanova

Kateryna Artyushkova

Plamen Atanassov

Pierangela Cristiani

Stefano Trasatti

Andrew J. Schuler

Baikun Li

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


© 2014 Cost-effective activated carbon (AC) material was investigated for the development of gas-diffusion cathode employed in membraneless single chamber microbial fuel cells (SCMFCs) treating different feeding solutions. The electrocatalytic activity of AC cathodes was monitored in synthetic wastewater containing phosphate buffer saline solution and sodium acetate (PBS and NaOAc) and compared with several types of wastewaters (e.g. fresh urine (FU), hydrolysed urine (HU), wastewater and sodium acetate (WW+NaOAc) and raw wastewater (WW)). Solution conductivity and pH significantly affected the cathode and the SCMFCs performance. Synthetic wastewater (PBS) outperformed real wastewater in terms of cathode current and SCMFC power output. The results showed that the SCMFCs fed with urine generated 3 times higher power densities than those with raw WW and 25% higher than those with WW+NaOAc, most likely due to the high amount of electrons generated from organic substances. Chemical analysis showed that nutrient concentrations remained the same in the SCMFCs fed with PBS, but decreased 40% in those fed with urine. High power generation associated with phosphorus removal underlines the possibility of using urine as a feedstock for MFCs in real wastewater treatment processes.


Santoro, C., Babanova, S., Artyushkova, K., Atanassov, P., Greenman, J., Cristiani, P., …Ieropoulos, I. (2014). The effects of wastewater types on power generation and phosphorus removal of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) with activated carbon (AC) cathodes. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 39(36), 21796-21802.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2014
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Journal International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Print ISSN 0360-3199
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 36
Pages 21796-21802
Keywords activated carbon cathode, wastewater, single chamber microbial fuel cell (SCMFC), organic compound removal, Nutrient transformation
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