To be best of our knowledge, this study is one of the first investigations to be performed into the potential benefits of gas diffusion electrode (GDE) system in controlling inactivation of E. coli. This study mainly focused on the dual electrodes disinfection with gas diffusion cathode, using Escherichia coli as the indicator microorganisms. The effects of Pt load WPt and the pore-forming agent content WNH4HCO3 in GDE, operating conditions such as pH value, oxygen flow rate QO2, salt content and current density on the disinfection were investigated, respectively. The experimental results showed that the disinfection improved with increasing Pt load WPt, but its efficiency at Pt load of 3‰ was equivalent to that at Pt load of 4‰. Addition of the pore-forming agent in the appropriate amount improved the disinfection while drop of pH value resulted in the rapid rise of the germicidal efficacy and the disinfection shortened with increasing oxygen flow rate QO2. The system is more suitable for highly salt water. The germicidal efficacy increased with current density. However, the accelerating rate was different: it first increased with the current density, then decreased, and reached a maximum at current density of 6.7–8.3 mA/cm2. The germicidal efficacy in the cathode compartment was about the same as in the anode compartment indicating the contribution of direct oxidation and indirect treatment of E. coli by the hydroxyl radical was similar to the oxidative indirect effect of the generated H2O2. This technology is expensive in operating cost, further research is required to advance the understanding and reduce the operating cost of this technology.

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