Phosphate recovery as struvite within a single chamber microbial electrolysis cell

Roland D. Cusick, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


An energy efficient method of concurrent hydrogen gas and struvite (MgNH 4PO 4·6H 2O) production was investigated based on bioelectrochemically driven struvite crystallization at the cathode of a single chamber microbial electrolysis struvite-precipitation cell (MESC). The MESC cathodes were either stainless steel 304 mesh or flat plates. Phosphate removal ranged from 20% to 40%, with higher removals obtained using mesh cathodes than with flat plates. Cathode accumulated crystals were verified as struvite using a scanning electron microscope capable of energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Crystal accumulation did not affect the rate of hydrogen production in struvite reactors. The rate of struvite crystallization (g/m 2-h) and hydrogen production (m 3/m 3-d) were shown to be dependent on applied voltage and cathode material. Overall energy efficiencies (substrate and electricity) were high (73±4%) and not dependent on applied voltage. These results show that MESCs may be useful both as a method for hydrogen gas and struvite production. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by Award KUS-I1-003-13 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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