Simultaneous organics removal and nitrification using a novel nitrifying biocathode microbial fuel cell (MFC) reactor were investigated in this study. Remarkably, the introduction of nitrifying biomass into the cathode chamber caused higher voltage outputs than that of MFC operated with the abiotic cathode. Results showed the maximum power density increased 18% when cathode was run under the biotic condition and fed by nitrifying medium with alkalinity/NH4+-N ratio of 8 (26 against 22 mW/m2). The voltage output was not differentiated when NH4+-N concentration was increased from 50 to 100 mg/L under such alkalinity/NH4+-N ratio. However, interestingly, the cell voltage rose significantly when the alkalinity/NH4+-N ratio was decreased to 6. Consequently, the maximum power density increased 68% in compared with the abiotic cathode MFC (37 against 22 mW/m2). Polarization curves demonstrated that both activation and concentration losses were lowered during the period of nitrifying biocathode operation. Ammonium was totally nitrified and mostly converted to nitrate in all cases of the biotic cathode conditions. High COD removal efficiency (98%) was achieved. In light of the results presented here, the application of nitrifying biocathode is not only able to integrate the nitrogen and carbon removal but also to enhance the power generation in MFC system. Our system can be suggested to open up a new feasible way for upgrading and retrofitting the existing wastewater treatment plant by the use of MFC-based technologies.

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