The yield and decay coefficients of exoelectrogenic bacteria in bioelectrochemical systems
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In conventional wastewater treatment, waste sludge management and disposal contribute the major cost for wastewater treatment. Bioelectrochemical systems, as a potential alternative for future wastewater treatment and resources recovery, are expected to produce small amounts of waste sludge because exoelectrogenic bacteria grow on anaerobic respiration and form highly populated biofilms on bioanode surfaces. While waste sludge production is governed by the yield and decay coefficient, none of previous studies have quantified these kinetic constants for exoelectrogenic bacteria. For yield coefficient estimation, we modified McCarty's free energy-based model by using the bioanode potential for the free energy of the electron acceptor reaction. The estimated true yield coefficient ranged 0.1 to 0.3 g-VSS (volatile suspended solids) g-COD(-1) (chemical oxygen demand), which is similar to that of most anaerobic microorganisms. The yield coefficient was sensitively affected by the bioanode potential and pH while the substrate and bicarbonate concentrations had relatively minor effects on the yield coefficient. In lab-scale experiments using microbial electrolysis cells, the observed yield coefficient (including the effect of cell decay) was found to be 0.020 ± 0.008 g-VSS g-COD(-1), which is an order of magnitude smaller than the theoretical estimation. Based on the difference between the theoretical and experimental results, the decay coefficient was approximated to be 0.013 ± 0.002 d(-1). These findings indicate that bioelectrochemical systems have potential for future wastewater treatment with reduced waste sludge as well as for resources recovery. Also, the found kinetic information will allow accurate estimation of wastewater treatment performance in bioelectrochemical systems.
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