Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology is currently gaining recognition as one of the most promising bioenergy technologies of the future. One aspect of this technology that has received little attention is the disinfection of effluents and the fate of pathogenic organisms that find their way into the waste stream. In this study, three independent trials were carried out to evaluate the fate of three bioluminescent pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) introduced into the anodic chamber of a urine-fed cascade of 9 MFCs with matured, electroactive biofilms. These are common examples of enteric human pathogens, which could contaminate urine or waste streams. The results showed that the average power generation in the closed circuit cascade reached 754 ± 16 µW, with an average pathogen log-fold reduction of 6.24 ± 0.63 compared to 2.01 ± 0.26 for the open circuit cascade for all three pathogens. The results suggest that the bio-electrochemical reactions associated with electricity generation were the primary driving force for the inactivation of the introduced pathogens. These findings show that pathogenic organisms introduced into waste streams could be inactivated by the power-generating process within the MFC cascade system, thereby preventing propagation and thus rendering the effluent safer for possible reuse.
Ieropoulos, I., Obata, O., Pasternak, G., & Greenman, J. (2019). Fate of three bioluminescent pathogenic bacteria fed through a cascade of urine microbial fuel cells. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 46(5), 587-599. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10295-019-02153-x