Recently it has been shown that electrical energy can be harvested from marine sediments, simply by connection of an electrode (anode) in anaerobic marine sediments to an electrode in the aerobic zone above the sediments. We have now shown that similar applications are available in sludge treatment. Using a reactor with graphite foil electrodes in an aerated aerobic and anaerobic sludge zone, electrical current was generated, and enhanced when an additional organic substrate (acetate) was added. Electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and PCR examination of the anode surface showed no surface colonization and no increase in Geobacter relative to a control, indicating that microbial use of the anode as an electron acceptor was indirect through the use of redox mediators. Given the demonstration of electricity generation from sludge, the potential for similar applications, using other organic waste sources, is evaluated.

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