Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a promising anaerobic technology but they are limited by the high cost of the catalyst used at the cathode (typically platinum). In this study, we designed a novel type of two-chambered MFC wherein an autoheterotrophic denitrifying biofilm replaced the costly catalyst on the cathode surface. Micro-organisms performed denitrification by using electrons supplied by bacteria oxidizing domestic wastewater and acetate as substrates in the anode chamber. This two-chambered MFC equipped with a biocathode generated during more than 1.5 month up to 9.4 mW m−2 of anode surface or 0.19 W m−3 of anode chamber volume, while removing over 65% of COD, 84% of total nitrogen and nearly 30% of suspended solids with domestic wastewater as a substrate, and nearly 95% of acetate in the subsequent experiments.

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