Effect of external resistance on microbial electrochemical desalination, sewage treatment, power and resource recovery

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Microbial desalination cell (MDC) has attracted attention as an eco-friendly technology to treat sewage and seawater with concurrent recovery of bioelectricity. External resistance (Rext) is one of the main factors that control it's performances. This study optimized the performance of an MDC for removing COD and salinity at five different Rext of 150, 100, 50, 25, and 10 Ω. Columbic efficiency (CE) was measured to find the best Rext for MDC operation. Voltage polarization demonstrated that the MDC possessed an internal resistance (Rint) of 25–30 Ω and maximum power recovery of 302.25 mW/m2. The highest and lowest recovery of stable electricity was 20.7 mA and 3.6 mA at Rext of 10 and 150 Ω, respectively. The COD removal increased from 21% at Rext of 25 Ω to 57% at Rext of 150 Ω. The CE decreased from 58.3% to 4.32% with the gradual increase of Rext from 25 to 150 Ω suggesting the dominancy of exoelectrogens in biofilm at Rext ≤ Rint. The achieved desalination rate was 47% and 18% at Rext of 10 and 25 Ω, respectively. The performances of investigated MDC showed a great potential for recovering electricity with significant removal of organics from domestic sewage and salt from seawater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101718
JournalSustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Acid production
  • Chemical recovery
  • Desalination rate
  • External resistance
  • Microbial desalination cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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