Biomass retention on electrodes rather than electrical current enhances stability in anaerobic digestion

De Vrieze, Jo, Gildemyn, Sylvia, Arends, Jan B. A., Vanwonterghem, Inka, Verbeken, Kim, Boon, Nico, Verstraete, Willy, Tyson, Gene W., Hennebel, Tom and Rabaey, Korneel (2014) Biomass retention on electrodes rather than electrical current enhances stability in anaerobic digestion. Water Research, 54 211-221. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2014.01.044

Author De Vrieze, Jo
Gildemyn, Sylvia
Arends, Jan B. A.
Vanwonterghem, Inka
Verbeken, Kim
Boon, Nico
Verstraete, Willy
Tyson, Gene W.
Hennebel, Tom
Rabaey, Korneel
Title Biomass retention on electrodes rather than electrical current enhances stability in anaerobic digestion
Journal name Water Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0043-1354
Publication date 2014-05-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2014.01.044
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 54
Start page 211
End page 221
Total pages 11
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher I W A Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
• Pre-inoculated electrodes can be used to remediate failing anaerobic digesters.
• The application of a cell potential has no direct effect on methane production.
Methanosaeta was dominant on the electrodes, irrespective of the cell potential.
• The key stabilizing effect of a BES in anaerobic digestion is biomass retention.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a well-established technology for energy recovery from organic waste streams. Several studies noted that inserting a bioelectrochemical system (BES) inside an anaerobic digester can increase biogas output, however the mechanism behind this was not explored and primary controls were not executed. Here, we evaluated whether a BES could stabilize AD of molasses. Lab-scale digesters were operated in the presence or absence of electrodes, in open (no applied potential) and closed circuit conditions. In the control reactors without electrodes methane production decreased to 50% of the initial rate, while it remained stable in the reactors with electrodes, indicating a stabilizing effect. After 91 days of operation, the now colonized electrodes were introduced in the failing AD reactors to evaluate their remediating capacity. This resulted in an immediate increase in CH4 production and VFA removal. Although a current was generated in the BES operated in closed circuit, no direct effect of applied potential nor current was observed. A high abundance of Methanosaeta was detected on the electrodes, however irrespective of the applied cell potential. This study demonstrated that, in addition to other studies reporting only an increase in methane production, a BES can also remediate AD systems that exhibited process failure. However, the lack of difference between current driven and open circuit systems indicates that the key impact is through biomass retention, rather than electrochemical interaction with the electrodes.
Keyword Bioelectrochemical system
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Advanced Water Management Centre Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 36 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 46 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 07 Mar 2014, 19:42:31 EST by Mrs Louise Nimwegen on behalf of Advanced Water Management Centre