Performances of microbial fuel cells fed with rejected wastewater from BioCH4 and BioH2 processes treating molasses wastewater

Yun Yeong Lee, Tae G. Kim, Kyung Suk Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


An integrated process involving conventional anaerobic digestion and microbial fuel cells (MFCs) has attracted attention recently to produce sustainable energy and to treat wastewater efficiently. To evaluate the possibility of CH4-producing process (BioCH4)-MFC or H2-producing process (BioH2)-MFC integrating systems, the MFC performances were investigated using rejected wastewater from a BioCH4 reactor (RWCH4) or BioH2 reactor (RWH2) treating molasses wastewater. When RWCH4 or RWH2 was fed into a single-chamber MFC reactor (designated as AC-MFCCH4 and AC-MFCH2, respectively) at different hydraulic retention times (HRT) of 1-7 d, both MFC systems showed maximum electricity production efficiencies at a HRT of 3 d. In the AC-MFCCH4 reactor, the average current density and average power density were 60.5 mA·m-2 and 8.8 mW·m-2, respectively. The AC-MFCH2 reactor generated an average current density of 71.4 mA·m-2 and an average power density of 12.0 mW·m-2. The COD removal rates were 45.7% in the AC-MFCCH4 reactor and 90.3% in the AC-MFCH2 reactor. There were no significant differences of the eubacterial community structures between the MFC systems, where Proteobacteria was remarkably dominant in both MFC systems. However, the archaeal community structures were significantly different where Methanothrix (89.3%) was remarkably dominant in the AC-MFCCH4 system, while Methanothrix (52.5%) and Methanosarcina (33.5%) were abundant in the AC-MFCH2 system. These findings demonstrate that the utilization of MFCs after the BioCH4 or BioH2 process is advantageous for energy recovery as well as COD removal from molasses wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-324
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (NRF- 2012R1A2A2A03046724).

Publisher Copyright:
© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC 2016.


  • CH-producing process
  • H-producing process
  • microbial fuel cells (MFCs)
  • molasses wastewater


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