Energy recovery and carbon/nitrogen removal from sewage and contaminated groundwater in a coupled hydrolytic-acidogenic sequencing batch reactor and denitrifying biocathode microbial fuel cell

Abdullah Al-Mamun*, Tahereh Jafary, Mahad Said Baawain, Sadik Rahman, Mahbuboor Rahman Choudhury, Meisam Tabatabaei, Su Shiung Lam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Developing cost-effective technology for treatment of sewage and nitrogen-containing groundwater is one of the crucial challenges of global water industries. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) oxidize organics from sewage by exoelectrogens on anode to produce electricity while denitrifiers on cathode utilize the generated electricity to reduce nitrogen from contaminated groundwater. As the exoelectrogens are incapable of oxidizing insoluble, polymeric, and complex organics, a novel integration of an anaerobic sequencing batch reactor (ASBR) prior to the MFC simultaneously achieve hydrolytic-acidogenic conversion of complex organics, boost power recovery, and remove Carbon/Nitrogen (C/N) from the sewage and groundwater. The results obtained revealed increases in the fractions of soluble organics and volatile fatty acids in pretreated sewage by 52 ± 19% and 120 ± 40%, respectively. The optimum power and current generation with the pretreated sewage were 7.1 W m−3 and 45.88 A m−3, respectively, corresponding to 8% and 10% improvements compared to untreated sewage. Moreover, the integration of the ASBR with the biocathode MFC led to 217% higher carbon and 136% higher nitrogen removal efficiencies compared to the similar system without ASBR. The outcomes of the present study represent the promising prospects of using ASBR pretreatment and successive utilization of solubilized organics in denitrifying biocathode MFCs for simultaneous energy recovery and C/N removal from both sewage and nitrate nitrogen-contaminated groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109273
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaerobic sequencing batch reactor
  • Denitrifying biocathode
  • Hydrolytic-acidogenic reaction
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Nutrients removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)

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