Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) have been shown to be useful in removing individual metals from solutions, but effective treatment of electroplating and mining wastewaters requires simultaneous removal of several metals in a single system. To develop multiple-reactor BESs for metals removal, biocathodes were first individually acclimated to three different metals using microbial fuel cells with Cr(VI) or Cu(II) as these metals have relatively high redox potentials, and microbial electrolysis cells for reducing Cd(II) as this metal has a more negative redox potential. The BESs were then acclimated to low concentrations of a mixture of metals, followed by more elevated concentrations. This procedure resulted in complete and selective metal reduction at rates of 1.24 ± 0.01 mg/L-h for Cr(VI), 1.07 ± 0.01 mg/L-h for Cu(II), and 0.98 ± 0.01 mg/L-h for Cd(II). These reduction rates were larger than the no adaptive controls by factors of 2.5 for Cr(VI), 2.9 for Cu(II), and 3.6 for Cd(II). This adaptive procedure produced less diverse microbial communities and changes in the microbial communities at the phylum and genus levels. These results demonstrated that bacterial communities can adaptively evolve to utilize solutions containing mixtures of metals, providing a strategy for remediating wastewaters containing Cr(VI), Cu(II), and Cd(II).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry