Power production from microbial reverse electrodialysis cell (MRC) electrodes is substantially improved compared to microbial fuel cells (MFCs) by using ammonium bicarbonate (AmB) solutions in multiple RED cell pair stacks and the cathode chamber. Reducing the number of RED membranes pairs while maintaining enhanced electrode performance could help to reduce capital costs. We show here that using only a single RED cell pair (CP), created by operating the cathode in concentrated AmB, dramatically increased power production normalized to cathode area from both acetate (Acetate: from 0.9 to 3.1 W/m 2-cat) and wastewater (WW: 0.3 to 1.7 W/m2), by reducing solution and charge transfer resistances at the cathode. A second RED cell pair increased RED stack potential and reduced anode charge transfer resistance, further increasing power production (Acetate: 4.2 W/m2; WW: 1.9 W/m2). By maintaining near optimal electrode power production with fewer membranes, power densities normalized to total membrane area for the 1-CP (Acetate: 3.1 W/m2-mem; WW: 1.7 W/m2) and 2-CP (Acetate: 1.3 W/m2-mem; WW: 0.6 W/m2) reactors were much higher than previous MRCs (0.3-0.5 W/m2-mem with acetate). While operating at peak power, the rate of wastewater COD removal, normalized to reactor volume, was 30-50 times higher in 1-CP and 2-CP MRCs than that in a single chamber MFC. These findings show that even a single cell pair AmB RED stack can significantly enhance electrical power production and wastewater treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry