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Ammonia recycling enables sustainable operation of bioelectrochemical systems

Cheng, K.Y., Kaksonen, A.H. and Cord-Ruwisch, R. (2013) Ammonia recycling enables sustainable operation of bioelectrochemical systems. Bioresource Technology, 143 . pp. 25-31.

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Ammonium (NH4+) migration across a cation exchange membrane is commonly observed during the operation of bioelectrochemical systems (BES). This often leads to anolyte acidification (pH <5.5) and complete inactivation of biofilm electroactivity. Without using conventional pH controls (dosage of alkali or pH buffers), the present study revealed that anodic biofilm activity (current) could be sustained if recycling of ammonia (NH3) was implemented. A simple gas-exchange apparatus was designed to enable continuous recycling of NH3 (released from the catholyte at pH >10) from the cathodic headspace to the acidified anolyte. Results indicated that current (110mA or 688Am-3 net anodic chamber volume) was sustained as long as the NH3 recycling path was enabled, facilitating continuous anolyte neutralization with the recycled NH3. Since the microbial current enabled NH4+ migration against a strong concentration gradient (~10-fold), a novel way of ammonia recovery from wastewaters could be envisaged.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2013 Elsevier Ltd
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