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Resource recovery from dairy and municipal wastewater sources in a terracotta-biochar bioelectrochemical system
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2022 Authors: Ghimire U., Gude V.G., Magbanua B.S.

Agricultural and municipal wastewater effluents contain valuable nutrients which can be recovered and recycled for agricultural applications. Microbial electrochemical systems facilitate recovery of nutrients from wastewater sources with concurrent electricity production. There is a strong potential for these systems; however, the electrode and membrane separator components of the process are still expensive. Moreover, for safe recovery and recycle of nutrients, natural and sustainable materials should be utilized. We explored the use of novel and sustainable materials for the construction of microbial electrochemical systems. Terracotta clay (an earthly material) and agricultural waste derived biochar materials were used to construct a microbial electrochemical system to enable nutrient capture and electricity generation from the organic substrates present in agricultural effluents. Municipal and agricultural (dairy production) wastewaters were evaluated for the potential resource recovery in the novel, sustainable microbial electrochemical systems. The effect of influencing parameters such as external resistance and COD concentrations on the performance of terracotta-biochar bioelectrochemical systems was studied. Appreciable levels of COD, N and P removals were observed. Moreover, power densities of 0.45 W/m3 and 1.26 W/m3 were recorded for synthetic municipal (500 mgCOD/L) and dairy wastewater (2500 mgCOD/L) sources, respectively. The SEM and EDX analysis results from this study confirm the beneficial use of sustainable materials for resource recovery applications in agricultural systems.

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