Anode acclimation methods and their impact on microbial electrolysis cells treating fermentation effluent

Mark L. Ullery, Bruce Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


There is a lack of standardized acclimation procedures for evaluating treatability of different wastewaters, and such tests are often conducted using different types of microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). Two different types of MECs (mini or cube) were therefore acclimated using two different substrates (acetate or domestic wastewater) to see the impact of these procedures on the resulting treatment efficiency using the same cellulose fermentation effluent. COD removal was slightly larger using mini MECs (81-86%) than cube MECs (79-82%). Pre-acclimation of mini MECs to domestic wastewater increased COD removal slightly compared to non-acclimated tests with fermentation effluent, but acclimation differences for the cube MECs were not statistically significant. Gas production was not significantly different for cube pre-acclimated MECs compared to those acclimated only to the fermentation effluent. Current densities were higher for the cube reactors than the mini MECs, but they were unaffected by acclimation procedure (pre-acclimation or direct use of fermentation effluent). These results show that mini MECs acclimated to a readily available complex source of organic matter (domestic wastewater) can produce equivalent or slightly superior results for tests with a different complex wastewater (fermentation effluent), and that mini MEC performance is comparable to that of cube MECs. The similarity of reactor performance allows the use of simple and inexpensive mini MECs that can be acclimated to domestic wastewater and subsequently used to test different types of industrial effluents.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6782-6791
Number of pages10
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-10-15
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Pin-Ching Maness and Lauren Magnusson at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) for providing fermentation effluent samples. This work was supported by Department of Energy Cooperative Agreement DE-EE0005750 and award KUS-11-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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