Journal of Bioprocessing & Biotechniques

ISSN: 2155-9821

Open Access

Wastewater Treatment with Microbial Fuel Cells: A Design and Feasibility Study for Scale-up in Microbreweries


Ellen Dannys, Travis Green, Andrew Wettlaufer, Chandra Mouli R Madhurnathakam and Ali Elkamel*

Wastewater treatment has traditionally been an energy intensive process, consuming between 950 and 2850 kJ/m3 of wastewater treated. By one account, wastewater contains 9.3 times more energy than is used to treat an equivalent volume, thus creating the desire to harness this energy through the use of a Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC). MFCs oxidize organic substrates, allowing simultaneous wastewater treatment and electricity generation. Previous research has primarily focused on the development of MFCs for electricity generation, mainly at the small, laboratory scale. Herein, an industrial-scale MFC process is proposed for the treatment of wastewater from a microbrewery based on a previously published model describing MFC operation. Through optimization and scale-out, a two chamber MFC process is developed for the treatment of 84 L/hr of wastewater with an inlet Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) of 3000 mg/L. An overall COD conversion of 91.9% is achieved allowing effluent to be discharged directly down a municipal sewer. Electricity generation is 26.4 kWh, 107% of the operational requirement. With a payback period of 5 years, this work shows that there is potential for the implementation of MFC technology in the food and beverage industry.


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