Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 78, Issue 5, pp 873–880 | Cite as

Brewery wastewater treatment using air-cathode microbial fuel cells

  • Yujie Feng
  • Xin Wang
  • Bruce E. Logan
  • He Lee
Environmental Biotechnology


Effective wastewater treatment using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) will require a better understanding of how operational parameters and solution chemistry affect treatment efficiency, but few studies have examined power generation using actual wastewaters. The efficiency of wastewater treatment of a beer brewery wastewater was examined here in terms of maximum power densities, Coulombic efficiencies (CEs), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal as a function of temperature and wastewater strength. Decreasing the temperature from 30°C to 20°C reduced the maximum power density from 205 mW/m2 (5.1 W/m3, 0.76 A/m2; 30°C) to 170 mW/m2 (20°C). COD removals (R COD) and CEs decreased only slightly with temperature. The buffering capacity strongly affected reactor performance. The addition of a 50-mM phosphate buffer increased power output by 136% to 438 mW/m2, and 200 mM buffer increased power by 158% to 528 mW/m2. In the absence of salts (NaCl), maximum power output varied linearly with wastewater strength (84 to 2,240 mg COD/L) from 29 to 205 mW/m2. When NaCl was added to increase conductivity, power output followed a Monod-like relationship with wastewater strength. The maximum power (P max) increased in proportion to the solution conductivity, but the half-saturation constant was relatively unaffected and showed no correlation to solution conductivity. These results show that brewery wastewater can be effectively treated using MFCs, but that achievable power densities will depend on wastewater strength, solution conductivity, and buffering capacity.


Microbial fuel cell Beer brewery wastewater Temperature Solution conductivity 



The research was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (Nos. 50578050 and 50638020). The authors thank Yanhui Qu for assistance with beer brewery wastewater collection. The research was also supported by the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in the University of China (IRT0424).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and EngineeringHarbin Institute of TechnologyHarbinChina
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPenn State UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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