Microbial Electrolysis Cells for Decentralised Wastewater Treatment: The Next Steps

Fudge, T., Bulmer, I., Bowman, K., Pathmakanthan, S., Gambier, W., Dehouche, Z., Al-Salem, S.M. and Constantinou, A. 2021. Microbial Electrolysis Cells for Decentralised Wastewater Treatment: The Next Steps. Water. 13 (4) 445. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040445

TitleMicrobial Electrolysis Cells for Decentralised Wastewater Treatment: The Next Steps
TypeJournal article
AuthorsFudge, T., Bulmer, I., Bowman, K., Pathmakanthan, S., Gambier, W., Dehouche, Z., Al-Salem, S.M. and Constantinou, A.
Abstract

Traditional wastewater treatment methods have become aged and inefficient, meaning alternative methods are essential to protect the environment and ensure water and energy security worldwide. The use of microbial electrolysis cells (MEC) for wastewater treatment provides an innovative alternative, working towards circular wastewater treatment for energy production. This study evaluates the factors hindering industrial adoption of this technology and proposes the next steps for further research and development. Existing pilot-scale investigations are studied to critically assess the main limitations, focusing on the electrode material, feedstock, system design and inoculation and what steps need to be taken for industrial adoption of the technology. It was found that high strength influents lead to an increase in energy production, improving economic viability; however, large variations in waste streams indicated that a homogenous solution to wastewater treatment is unlikely with changes to the MEC system specific to different waste streams. The current capital cost of implementing MECs is high and reducing the cost of the electrodes should be a priority. Previous pilot-scale studies have predominantly used carbon-based materials. Significant reductions in relative performance are observed when electrodes increase in size. Inoculation time was found to be a significant barrier to quick operational performance. Economic analysis of the technology indicated that MECs offer an attractive option for wastewater treatment, namely greater energy production and improved treatment efficiency. However, a significant reduction in capital cost is necessary to make this economically viable. MEC based systems should offer improvements in system reliability, reduced downtime, improved treatment rates and improved energy return. Discussion of the merits of H2 or CH4 production indicates that an initial focus on methane production could provide a stepping-stone in the adoption of this technology while the hydrogen market matures.

Article number445
JournalWater
Journal citation13 (4)
ISSN2073-4441
Year2021
PublisherMDPI
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040445
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040445
Publication dates
Published09 Feb 2021

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/v9z38/microbial-electrolysis-cells-for-decentralised-wastewater-treatment-the-next-steps


Share this

Usage statistics

2 total views
12 total downloads
These values cover views and downloads from WestminsterResearch and are for the period from September 2nd 2018, when this repository was created.