Effect of batch vs. continuous mode of operation on microbial desalination cell performance treating municipal wastewater

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Civil-Environmental Engineering, Babol Noshirvani University of Technology, Iran

2 Babol Noshirvani University of Technology


Microbial desalination cells (MDCs) have  great potential as a cost-effective and green technology for simultaneous water desalination, organic matter removal and energy production. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of a MDC under batch and continuous feeding conditions. Hence, power and current output, coulombic efficiency, electron harvest rate, desalination rate and COD removal were calculated during the operation. According  to the obtained results, the MDC performance exhibited some changes when the reactor switched from batch to continuous mode. The continuously operated MDC indicated a maximum power density of 15.9 W.m-3 and an average salt removal rate of 80%. In comparison, the batch MDC demonstrated the maximum power density and average salt removal rate of 13.9 W.m-3 and 68.1%, respectively. In addition, 83.7% of COD was removed in the continuously fed MDC at a hydraulic retention time of two days, which was 13.8% more than amount of COD removed in MDC under a two days batch process. The obtained results revealed that enrichment of anolyte under controlled continuous feeding conditions would relatively improve the MDC performance. 


Main Subjects

1.             Jackson R.B., Carpenter S.R., Dahm C.N., Mcknight D.M., Naiman R.J., Postel S.L.,Running S.W., "Water in a changing world", Ecol. appl, 2001, 11: 1027.

2.             Elimelech M. and Phillip W.A., "The future of seawater desalination: energy, technology, and the environment", Science, 2011, 333: 712.

3.             Mehanna M., Saito T., Yan J., Hickner M., Cao X., Huang X.,Logan B.E., "Using microbial desalination cells to reduce water salinity prior to reverse osmosis", Energy  Environ. Sci. 2010, 3: 1114.

4.             Karimi Alavijeh M., Mardanpour M.M.,Yaghmaei S., "Modeling of multi-population microbial fuel and electrolysis cells based on the bioanode potential conditions", Iran. J. Hydrog. Fuel Cell, 2015, 1: 247.

5.             Potter M.C., "Electrical effects accompanying the decomposition of organic compounds", Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Containing Papers of a Biological Character, 1911, 84: 260.

6.             Logan B.E., Hamelers B., Rozendal R., Schröder U., Keller J., Freguia S., Aelterman P., Verstraete W.,Rabaey K., "Microbial fuel cells: methodology and technology", Environ. Sci. Technol., 2006, 40: 5181.

7.             Forrestal C., Xu P., Jenkins P.E.,Ren Z., "Microbial desalination cell with capacitive adsorption for ion migration control", Bioresour. Technol., 2012, 120: 332.

8.             Luo H., Xu P., Roane T.M., Jenkins P.E.,Ren Z., "Microbial desalination cells for improved performance in wastewater treatment, electricity production, and desalination", Bioresour. Technol., 2012, 105: 60.

9.             Zuo K., Yuan L., Wei J., Liang P.,Huang X., "Competitive migration behaviors of multiple ions and their impacts on ion-exchange resin packed microbial desalination cell", Bioresour. Technol., 2013, 146: 637.

10.           Sevda S., Yuan H., He Z.,Abu-Reesh I.M., "Microbial desalination cells as a versatile technology: functions, optimization and prospective", Desalination, 2015, 371: 9.

11.           Brastad K.S. and He Z., "Water softening using microbial desalination cell technology", Desalination, 2013, 309: 32.

12.           Saeed H.M., Husseini G.A., Yousef S., Saif J., Al-Asheh S., Fara A.A., Azzam S., Khawaga R.,Aidan A., "Microbial desalination cell technology: a review and a case study", Desalination, 2015, 359: 1.

13.           Kim Y. and Logan B.E., "Microbial desalination cells for energy production and desalination", Desalination, 2013, 308: 122.

14.           Cao X., Huang X., Liang P., Xiao K., Zhou Y., Zhang X.,Logan B.E., "A new method for water desalination using microbial desalination cells", Environmental science & technology, 2009, 43: 7148.

15.           Werner C.M., Logan B.E., Saikaly P.E.,Amy G.L., "Wastewater treatment, energy recovery and desalination using a forward osmosis membrane in an air-cathode microbial osmotic fuel cell", J. Membrane Sci., 2013, 428: 116.

16.           Qu Y., Feng Y., Wang X., Liu J., Lv J., He W.,Logan B.E., "Simultaneous water desalination and electricity generation in a microbial desalination cell with electrolyte recirculation for pH control", Bioresour. Technol.,, 2012, 106: 89.

17.           Jacobson K.S., Drew D.M.,He Z., "Efficient salt removal in a continuously operated upflow microbial desalination cell with an air cathode", Bioresour. Technol., 2011, 102: 376.

18.           Qu Y., Feng Y., Liu J., He W., Shi X., Yang Q., Lv J.,Logan B.E., "Salt removal using multiple microbial desalination cells under continuous flow conditions", Desalination, 2013, 317: 17.

19.           Zhang Y. and Angelidaki I., "Submersible microbial desalination cell for simultaneous ammonia recovery and electricity production from anaerobic reactors containing high levels of ammonia", Bioresour. Technol.,, 2015, 177: 233.

20.           Li Y., Styczynski J., Huang Y., Xu Z., Mccutcheon J.,Li B., "Energy-positive wastewater treatment and desalination in an integrated microbial desalination cell (MDC)-microbial electrolysis cell (MEC)", J. Power Sources, 2017.

21.           Dong Y., Liu J., Sui M., Qu Y., Ambuchi J., Wang H.,Feng Y., "A combined microbial desalination cell and electrodialysis system for copper-containing wastewater treatment and high-salinity-water desalination", J. Hazard. Mater., 2016, 321: 307.

22.           Lay C.-H., Kokko M.E.,Puhakka J.A., "Power generation in fed-batch and continuous up-flow microbial fuel cell from synthetic wastewater", Energy, 2015, 91: 235.

23.           Pannell T.C., Goud R.K., Schell D.J.,Borole A.P., "Effect of fed-batch vs. continuous mode of operation on microbial fuel cell performance treating biorefinery wastewater", Biochem. Eng. J., 2016, 116: 85.

24.           Apha, Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association (APHA): Washington, DC, USA. 2005.

25.           Watson V.J. and Logan B.E., "Analysis of polarization methods for elimination of power overshoot in microbial fuel cells", Electrochem. Commun., 2011, 13: 54.

26.           Wen Q., Zhang H., Chen Z., Li Y., Nan J.,Feng Y., "Using bacterial catalyst in the cathode of microbial desalination cell to improve wastewater treatment and desalination", Bioresour. Technol., 2012, 125: 108.

27.           Logan B.E., Microbial fuel cells. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

28.           Liu Z.-D. and Li H.-R., "Effects of bio-and abio-factors on electricity production in a mediatorless microbial fuel cell", Biochem. Eng. J., 2007, 36: 209.

29.           Luo H., Xu P.,Ren Z., "Long-term performance and characterization of microbial desalination cells in treating domestic wastewater", Bioresour. Technol., 2012, 120: 187.

30.           Kokabian B. and Gude V.G., "Sustainable photosynthetic biocathode in microbial desalination cells", Chem. Eng. J., 2015, 262: 958.

31.           Meng F., Jiang J., Zhao Q., Wang K., Zhang G., Fan Q., Wei L., Ding J.,Zheng Z., "Bioelectrochemical desalination and electricity generation in microbial desalination cell with dewatered sludge as fuel", Bioresour. Technol., 2014, 157: 120.