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Enhanced MFC power production and struvite recovery by the addition of sea salts to urine

Merino-Jimenez, Irene; Celorrio, Veronica; Fermin, David J.; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Irene Merino-Jimenez

Veronica Celorrio

David J. Fermin

John Greenman


© 2016 The Authors Urine is an excellent fuel for electricity generation in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), especially with practical implementations in mind. Moreover, urine has a high content in nutrients which can be easily recovered. Struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) crystals naturally precipitate in urine, but this reaction can be enhanced by the introduction of additional magnesium. In this work, the effect of magnesium additives on the power output of the MFCs and on the catholyte generation is evaluated. Several magnesium sources including MgCl2, artificial sea water and a commercially available sea salts mixture for seawater preparation (SeaMix) were mixed with real fresh human urine in order to enhance struvite precipitation. The supernatant of each mixture was tested as a feedstock for the MFCs and it was evaluated in terms of power output and catholyte generation. The commercial SeaMix showed the best performance in terms of struvite precipitation, increasing the amount of struvite in the solid collected from 21% to 94%. Moreover, the SeaMix increased the maximum power performance of the MFCs by over 10% and it also changed the properties of the catholyte collected by increasing the pH, conductivity and the concentration of chloride ions. These results demonstrate that the addition of sea-salts to real urine is beneficial for both struvite recovery and electricity generation in MFCs.


Merino-Jimenez, I., Celorrio, V., Fermin, D. J., Greenman, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2017). Enhanced MFC power production and struvite recovery by the addition of sea salts to urine. Water Research, 109, 46-53.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 4, 2016
Publication Date Feb 1, 2017
Journal Water Research
Print ISSN 0043-1354
Electronic ISSN 1879-2448
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 109
Pages 46-53
Keywords microbial fuel cell, MFC, ceramic membrane, struvite recovery, catholyte generation, urine treatment
Public URL
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