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Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 169;

Biochar Based Microbial Fuel Cell for Enhanced Wastewater Treatment and Nutrient Recovery

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
US Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Ave. SW., Code 6100, Washington, DC 20375, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 17 December 2015 / Revised: 4 February 2016 / Accepted: 5 February 2016 / Published: 14 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biochar)
Full-Text   |   PDF [3342 KB, uploaded 14 February 2016]   |  


Waste-wood derived biochar was evaluated for the first time as both an anode and cathode material, simultaneously, in an overflow style microbial fuel cell (MFC) using actual industrial wastewater. Results show that the average chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal was 95% with a reduction rate of 0.53 kg·COD·m−1·d−1 in closed operation mode. The ammonia and phosphorous reductions from wastewater was 73% and 88%, respectively. Stable power production was observed with a peak power density measured at 6 W/m3. Preliminary contributions of physical, biological, and electrochemical COD removals were evaluated, and the results show such combined mechanisms give BC an advantage for MFC applications. Nutrient recovery data showed high levels of macronutrients adsorbed onto the spent biochar electrodes, and phosphorus concentration increased from 0.16 g·kg−1 in raw BC to up to 1.9 g·kg−1 in the cathode. These findings highlight the use of biochar as electrodes in MFCs to facilitate simultaneous wastewater treatment and power production with additional agronomic benefits. View Full-Text
Keywords: biochar; wastewater treatment; nutrient recovery; microbial fuel cell; sustainability biochar; wastewater treatment; nutrient recovery; microbial fuel cell; sustainability

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Huggins, T.M.; Latorre, A.; Biffinger, J.C.; Ren, Z.J. Biochar Based Microbial Fuel Cell for Enhanced Wastewater Treatment and Nutrient Recovery. Sustainability 2016, 8, 169.

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