Sustainable leachate pre-treatment using microbial desalination cell for simultaneous desalination and energy recovery

Sadik Rahman, Sajjad Ahmad Siddiqi, Abdullah Al-Mamun*, Tahereh Jafary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Leachate treatment technologies struggle with low treatment efficiencies due to complex and toxic chemicals in leachate. Therefore, mixing leachate with low-density wastewater could be beneficial. This research studied the feasibility of pretreating a mixture of leachate and municipal wastewater (1:4) in a microbial desalination cell (MDC) for the first time. The study examined the MDC potential in removing organics and NH3-N from leachate-wastewater mixture along with measuring the desalination efficiency and energy recovery at different applied external resistance (Rext). The results showed that MDC-1 (at Rext = 1 Ω) showed a higher desalination rate (DR) (35.71 mg/h) and higher NH3-N removal (36%) with lower COD removal (28%) compared to MDC-100 (at Rext = 100 Ω) with DR = 17.98 mg/h, NH3-N removal of 10% and COD removal of 78.26%. The results revealed that Rext could regulate the pollutants (organics, NH3-N) removal and desalination efficiency. The lack of soluble organics could also result in significant discrepancies in bioelectrochemical performance. MDC-100 showed four times higher energy output (5.63 W·m−3) compared to MDC-1 (1.39 W·m−3), while MDC-1 showed five times higher columbic efficiency (29.3%) compared to MDC-100 (5.52%). Future studies should investigate the best MDC configurations for the optimum leachate-wastewater ratio for sustainable leachate treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115708
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2022


  • Desalination
  • Energy production
  • External resistance
  • Leachate pretreatment
  • Microbial desalination cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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