Brewery wastewater treatment using air-cathode microbial fuel cells

Yujie Feng, Xin Wang, Bruce E. Logan, He Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

500 Scopus citations


Effective wastewater treatment using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) will require a better understanding of how operational parameters and solution chemistry affect treatment efficiency, but few studies have examined power generation using actual wastewaters. The efficiency of wastewater treatment of a beer brewery wastewater was examined here in terms of maximum power densities, Coulombic efficiencies (CEs), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal as a function of temperature and wastewater strength. Decreasing the temperature from 30°C to 20°C reduced the maximum power density from 205 mW/m 2 (5.1 W/m3, 0.76 A/m2; 30°C) to 170 mW/m2 (20°C). COD removals (R COD) and CEs decreased only slightly with temperature. The buffering capacity strongly affected reactor performance. The addition of a 50-mM phosphate buffer increased power output by 136% to 438 mW/m2, and 200 mM buffer increased power by 158% to 528 mW/m2. In the absence of salts (NaCl), maximum power output varied linearly with wastewater strength (84 to 2,240 mg COD/L) from 29 to 205 mW/m2. When NaCl was added to increase conductivity, power output followed a Monod-like relationship with wastewater strength. The maximum power (P max) increased in proportion to the solution conductivity, but the half-saturation constant was relatively unaffected and showed no correlation to solution conductivity. These results show that brewery wastewater can be effectively treated using MFCs, but that achievable power densities will depend on wastewater strength, solution conductivity, and buffering capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-880
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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