Microbial electrolysis contribution to anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge, leading to accelerated methane production

Wenzong Liu, Weiwei Cai, Zechong Guo, Chunxue Yang, Cristiano Varrone, Aijie Wang

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Methane production rate (MPR) in waste activated sludge (WAS) digestion processes is typically limitedby the initial steps of complex organic matter degradation, leading to a limited MPR due to sludgefermentation speed of solid particles. In this study, a novel microbial electrolysis AD reactor (ME-AD) wasused to accelerate methane production for energy recovery from WAS. Carbon bioconversion wasaccelerated by ME producing H2 at the cathode. MPR was enhanced to 91.8 gCH4/m3 reactor/d in themicrobial electrolysis ME-AD reactor, thus improving the rate by 3 times compared to control conditions (30.6 gCH4/m3 reactor/d in AD). The methane production yield reached 116.2 mg/g VSS in the ME-ADreactor. According to balance calculation on electron transfer and methane yield, the increasedmethane production was mostly dependent on electron contribution through the ME system. Thus, theuse of the novel ME-AD reactor allowed to significantly enhance carbon degradation and methaneproduction from WAS.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRenewable Energy
Pages (from-to)334-339
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Microbial electrolysis AD reactor
  • Waste activated sludge
  • Energy recovery
  • Bio-electron
  • Methanogenesis

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