Abstract

Development of renewable energy sources, efficient industrial processes, energy/chemicals recovery from wastes are research issues that are quite contemporary. Bioelectrochemical processes represent an eco-innovative technology for energy and resources recovery from both domestic and industrial wastewaters. The current study was conducted to: (i) assess bioelectrochemical treatability of industrial (dairy) wastewater by microbial fuel cells (MFCs); (ii) determine the effects of the applied organic loading rate (OLR) on MFC performance; (iii) identify factors responsible for reactor energy recovery losses (i.e. overpotentials). For this purpose, an MFC was built and continuously operated for 72 days, during which the anodic chamber was fed with dairy wastewater and the cathodic chamber with an aerated mineral solution. The study demonstrated that industrial effluents from agrifood facilities can be treated by bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) with >85% (average) organic matter removal, recovering power at an observed maximum density of 27 W m−3. Outcomes were better than in previous (shorter) analogous experiences, and demonstrate that this type of process could be successfully used for dairy wastewater with several advantages.

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