Influence of nitrogen limitation on performance of a microbial fuel cell

Belleville, P., Strong, P. J., Dare, P. H. and Gapes, D. J. (2011) Influence of nitrogen limitation on performance of a microbial fuel cell. Water Science and Technology, 63 8: 1752-1757. doi:10.2166/wst.2011.111

Author Belleville, P.
Strong, P. J.
Dare, P. H.
Gapes, D. J.
Title Influence of nitrogen limitation on performance of a microbial fuel cell
Journal name Water Science and Technology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0273-1223
Publication date 2011-01-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2166/wst.2011.111
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 63
Issue 8
Start page 1752
End page 1757
Total pages 6
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher I W A Publishing
Language eng
Subject 2305 Environmental Engineering
2312 Water Science and Technology
Abstract We describe the operation of a microbial fuel cell (MFC) system operating on a synthetic wastewater (acetic acid), under conditions of increasing nitrogen limitation. Two MFCs were operated under feed conditions which spanned a range of TKN/COD values of 1.6-28 mg/g. Stable operation was observed in all cases, even when no ammoniacal nitrogen was added to the cell. Improved electrochemical performance (measured as power density, W/m2) was observed as nitrogen limitation was imposed on the cells. Even with no ammonium addition, continuous function of the cell was maintained, at levels consistent with operation at balanced nutrient supplementation. The work has implicated biological nitrogen fixation as a potential source of nitrogen within the MFC. Whilst this hypothesis has yet to be confirmed, the work highlights the opportunity for continuous operation of microbial fuel cells utilising wastewaters with extremely low nitrogen levels, present in pulp and paper, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries. Further, the described increases in some of the electrochemical indices (e.g. power density) under application of nitrogen limitation may provide a new approach to increasing fuel cell performance. Finally, the lack of any need to add supplemental nitrogen to a MFC-based wastewater treatment technology holds potential for significant financial and environmental savings.
Keyword Microbial fuel cell
Nitrogen fixation
Nitrogen limitation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Civil Engineering Publications
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