Alternative metabolic options of exoelectrogenic biofilms in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) are important not only to explain the fundamental ecology and performance of these systems but also to develop reliable integrated nutrient removal strategies in BESs, which potentially involve substrates or intermediates that support/induce those alternative metabolisms. This research focused on dissimilatory nitrate reduction as an alternative metabolism to dissimilatory anode reduction. Using the exoelectrogenic nitrate reducer Geobacter metallireducens, the critical conditions controlling those alternative metabolisms were investigated in two-chamber, potentiostatically controlled BESs at various anode potentials and biofilm thicknesses and challenged over a range of nitrate concentrations. Results showed that anode-reducing biofilms facultatively reduced nitrate at all tested anode potentials (-150 to +900 mV vs Standard Hydrogen Electrode) with a rapid metabolic shift. The critical nitrate concentration that triggered a significant decrease in BES performance was a function of anode biofilm thickness but not anode potential. This indicates that these alternative metabolisms were controlled by the availability of nitrate, which is a function of nitrate concentration in bulk solution and its diffusion into an anode-reducing biofilm. Coulombic recovery decreased as a function of nitrate dose due to electron-acceptor substrate competition, and nitrate-induced suspended biomass growth decreased the effluent quality.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry