Challege and Opportunities of Membrane Bioelctrochemical Reactors for Wastewater Treatment

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Virginia Tech

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are potentially advantageous as an energy-efficient approach for wastewater treatment. Integrating membrane filtration with MFCs could be a viable option for advanced wastewater treatment with a low energy input. Such an integration is termed as membrane bioelectrochemical reactors (MBERs). Comparing to the conventional membrane bioreactors or anaerobic membrane bioreactors, MBER could be a competitive technology, due to the its advantages on energy consumption and nutrients removal. By installing the membrane in the cathodic compartment or applying granular activated carbon as fluidized bed materials, membrane fouling issue could be alleviated significantly. In order to drive MBER technology to become a more versatile platform, applying anion exchange membrane (AEM) could be an option for nutrients removal in MBERs. Wastewater can be reclaimed and reused for subsequent fermentation use after a series MFC-MBR treatment process. Such a synergistic configuration not only provide a solution for sustainable wastewater treatment, but also save water and chemical usage from other non-renewable resource. Integrating membrane process with microbial fuel cells through an external configuration provides another solution on sustainable wastewater treatment through a minimal maintenance requirement.

Microbial fuel cells, Wastewater, Energy recovery, Fouling, Optimization