Examination of protein degradation in continuous flow, microbial electrolysis cells treating fermentation wastewater

Joo-Youn Nam, Matthew D. Yates, Zehra Zaybak, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Cellulose fermentation wastewaters (FWWs) contain short chain volatile fatty acids and alcohols, but they also have high concentrations of proteins. Hydrogen gas production from FWW was examined using continuous flow microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), with a focus on fate of the protein. H2 production rates were 0.49±0.05m3/m3-d for the FWW, compared to 0.63±0.02m3/m3-d using a synthetic wastewater containing only acetate (applied potential of 0.9V). Total organic matter removal was 76±6% for the FWW, compared to 87±5% for acetate. The MEC effluent became relatively enriched in protein (69%) compared to that in the original FWW (19%). Protein was completely removed using higher applied voltages (1.0 or 1.2V), but current generation was erratic due to more positive anode potentials (-113±38mV, Eap=1.2V; -338±38mV, 1.0V; -0.426±4mV, 0.9V). Bacteria on the anodes with FWW were primarily Deltaproteobacteria, while Archaea were predominantly Methanobacterium.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-186
Number of pages5
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This study was supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Award KUS-I1-003-13), and Research and Development Program of the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) (B4-2481)
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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