This study aimed to enhance the removal of phosphate in synthetic rural sewage by using a continuous electrocoagulation combined with biofilm process in an integrated system. Characteristic indexes of biofilm process effluent covering pH, DO, SS, COD and phosphate maintained a narrow fluctuation range and tended not readily to influence the phosphate removal of subsequent electrocoagulation. Three parameters including inter-electrode distance, current intensity and reaction time were selected to investigate the performance of enhancing phosphate removal. On the strength of single-factor tests, the Box-Behnken design (BBD) coupled with response surface methodology (RSM) was applied to investigate the individual and mutual interaction impacts of the major operating parameters and to optimize conditions. The optimum conditions were found to be inter-electrode distance of 1.8 cm, current density of 2.1 mA/cm2 and EC reaction time of 34 min, and the phosphate removal efficiency was achieved to be 90.24% along with less than 1 mg/L in case of periodic polarity switching mode, which raised removal efficiency by 10.10% and reduced operating cost by 0.13 CNY/g PO4 compared to non-switching mode. The combination of biofilm processing and electrocoagulation treatment was proven a valid and feasible method for enhancing phosphate removal.


  • The combined biofilm and EC system was used to enhance phosphate removal.

  • BBD was applied to optimize various operation parameters on phosphate removal.

  • Phosphate removal of 90.24% was observed at optimal conditions.

  • Utilization of periodic polarity switching achieved a better effect.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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