COD removal characteristics in air-cathode microbial fuel cells

Xiaoyuan Zhang, Weihua He, Lijiao Ren, Jennifer Stager, Patrick J. Evans, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

220 Scopus citations


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Exoelectrogenic microorganisms in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) compete with other microorganisms for substrate. In order to understand how this affects removal rates, current generation, and coulombic efficiencies (CEs), substrate removal rates were compared in MFCs fed a single, readily biodegradable compound (acetate) or domestic wastewater (WW). Removal rates based on initial test conditions fit first-order kinetics, but rate constants varied with circuit resistance. With filtered WW (100Ω), the rate constant was 0.18h- 1, which was higher than acetate or filtered WW with an open circuit (0.10h- 1), but CEs were much lower (15-24%) than acetate. With raw WW (100Ω), COD removal proceeded in two stages: a fast removal stage with high current production, followed by a slower removal with little current. While using MFCs increased COD removal rate due to current generation, secondary processes will be needed to reduce COD to levels suitable for discharge.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors thank David Jones for laboratory support and Mark Ullery for discussions on domestic wastewater COD removal rates. This research was supported by Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51408336).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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