Nitrogen Removal from Closed Aquaculture System by Bio-electrochemical System

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Virginia Tech


Removal of nitrogen elements in culture water is one of the major concerns in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). Maintaining a low concentration of nitrogen compounds is essential for a good quality of aquaculture production. Due to fish is very sensitive to the toxic ammonium/ammonia, nitrification biofiltration tank is often an integrate part of filtration in RAS to remove ammonium via nitrification. However, nitrate accumulation via nitrification in RAS is often observed during the operation, which is usually solved by replacing with the fresh water into the system. With the concern of water consumption, bio-electrochemical system (BES) is introduced in this study to realize simultaneous nitrate removal for the system while generating the electricity through electron transferring. A microbial fuel cell (MFC) with an anion exchange membrane (AEM) was constructed. The removal of nitrate from aquaculture water generated from RAS was achieved by nitrate migration across the AEM and heterotrophic denitrification in the anode chamber. To further investigate the potential application of BES in RAS, the cathode chamber was incubated with biofilm to do the nitrification while the denitrification processing in the anode chamber. The study gave a total inorganic nitrogen removal efficiency of 38.72% ± 4.99, and a COD removal of 86.09% ± 9.83. The average daily electricity generation was 67.98 A m-3 ± 13.91, and nitrate-nitrogen concentration remained at 21.02 ± 2.62 mg L-1 throughout the experiment. These results of treating aquaculture water indicate that BES has a potential to install within RAS for enhanced nitrogen removal.



Bio-electrochemical systems, Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS), Microbial Fuel Cells, Nitrification, Denitrification