Acid-mine drainage (AMD) is difficult and costly to treat. We investigated a new approach to AMD treatment using fuel cell technologies to generate electricity while removing iron from the water. Utilizing a recently developed microbial fuel cell architecture, we developed an acid-mine drainagefuel cell (AMD-FC) capable of abiotic electricity generation. The AMD-FC operated in fed-batch mode generated a maximum power density of 290 mW/m2 at a Coulombic efficiency greater than 97%. Ferrous iron was completely removed through oxidation to insoluble Fe(III), forming a precipitate in the bottom of the anode chamber and on the anode electrode. Several factors were examined to determine their effect on operation, including pH, ferrous iron concentration, and solution chemistry. Optimum conditions were a pH of 6.3 and a ferrous iron concentration above ∼0.0036 M. These results suggest that fuel cell technologies can be used not only for treating AMD through removal of metals from solution, but also for producing useful products such as electricity and recoverable metals. Advances being made in wastewater fuel cells will enable more efficient power generation and systems suitable for scale-up.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry