Anammox bacteria as biocathode of Microbial Desalination Cell (ANXMDC)

Author(s): Kokabian, B.; Gude, V.

Discharge of nitrogenous compounds from municipal and industrial wastewater effluents is of major concerns of today’s world since it has negative effects including eutrophication and hypoxia in water bodies. On the other hand, an ongoing challenge to sustainability of wastewater treatment systems is to improve the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness in removing nutrient compounds. A solution to this challenge would be to use Anammox bacteria in devices called Microbial Desalination Cell (ANXMDC). ANXMDC is a promising technology which allows for simultaneous wastewater treatment and desalination of saline water with concurrent electricity production and nitrogen removal. Exoelectrogenic bacteria in the anode oxidize organic matter while autotrophic bacteria serve as biocathode to remove ammonia in an emerging anaerobic microbial process called anaerobic ammonia oxidation (anammox). For a proof-of-concept study, the ANXMDC was fed with synthetic wastewater as organic source in the anode chamber and anammox bacteria were used as biocathode. The ANXMDC produced 0.0896 V while 100% of ammonia (NH3 as ammonium) and 88% of nitrite were removed from the cathode chamber with desalination efficiency of 53.66%. Our results demonstrate that effective batch acclimatization experiments enhanced electricity generation along with nitrogenous compound removal and desalination. This study shows that this system has potential for sustainable and cost effective treatment of nitrogenous compounds and energy recovery from wastewater.

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