The fundamental performance of a bio-electrochemical reactor for the direct treatment of metal ickling wastewater was investigated experimentally. In the reactor, carbon anode and cathode were installed. On the cathode, denitrifying microorganisms were immobilized. Continuous experiments were carried out by feeding a synthetic wastewater containing nitrate and binary heavy metal ions, copper and lead, under different operating conditions. Acetate as well as the electric current was supplied at the minimum amount for stoichiometry of the dissimilatory denitrification reaction. The results indicated that the dissolved copper and lead removal, denitrification and neutralization could be achieved simultaneously in a single bio-electrochemical reactor. The dissolved heavy metals were removed by electrochemical deposition on cathode and by the other phenomena such as the formation of insoluble suspensions and the sorption on suspended bacterial sludge. Denitrification proceeded effectively with the utilization of both added acetate and hydrogen gas generated by electrolysis of water. The pH value increased up to around neutral due to the occurrence of denitrification in the reactor, although the influent pH was less than 3. The removal efficiencies of heavy metals and nitrate increased with increasing the current density. The applied electric current was indispensable for sustaining the stable treatment in the reactor.

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