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Yifan Sun

PhD Researcher
Dept. of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering


Microbial Fuel Cells based system for pollutants Removal, resources Recovery and Disinfection

Keywords: Microbial Fuel Cell, pollutants removal, resources recovery, disinfection.

A typical wastewater treatment plant has primary, secondary and tertiary treatment processes. The conventional secondary treatment processes such as activated sludge, membrane aerated bio-reactors, dissolved air filtration and sequencing batch reactor (SBR) usually involve pumped aeration and/or sludge/flow return therefore have high energy demand. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) technology has great advantage over the current technologies used in the secondary treatment process due to its no need of pumped aeration, low sludge production and capability of simultaneously pollutant removal and electric energy production. MFC is a bioelectrochemical process which can produce electricity by using the electrons derived from organic pollutants through biochemical reactions catalyzed by bacteria.

MFCs technologies are still in the laboratory and pilot levels and there is no commercial application of MFCs technology for wastewater treatment so far, due to the difficulty of scaling up the system to industrial level and the high cost of the cathodes. In addition to scaling up the MFCs, in situ utilisation of the electricity generated by the MFC system is another challenge for application of MFCs in real wastewater treatment plants, as the power density and the output voltages are relatively low.

This project will develop, test an industrial scale microbial fuels system in real wastewater treatment plant for COD and nitrogen removal, and electricity generation.

The study is supported by Enterprise Ireland.

Project Supervisors: Prof. Liwen Xiao & Dr. Dunzhu Li