Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 2335–2341 | Cite as

Horizontal arrangement of anodes of microbial fuel cells enhances remediation of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soil

  • Yueyong Zhang
  • Xin Wang
  • Xiaojing Li
  • Lijuan Cheng
  • Lili Wan
  • Qixing Zhou
Research Article


With the aim of in situ bioremediation of soil contaminated by hydrocarbons, anodes arranged with two different ways (horizontal or vertical) were compared in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Charge outputs as high as 833 and 762C were achieved in reactors with anodes horizontally arranged (HA) and vertically arranged (VA). Up to 12.5 % of the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) was removed in HA after 135 days, which was 50.6 % higher than that in VA (8.3 %) and 95.3 % higher than that in the disconnected control (6.4 %). Hydrocarbon fingerprint analysis showed that the degradation rates of both alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in HA were higher than those in VA. Lower mass transport resistance in the HA than that of the VA seems to result in more power and more TPH degradation. Soil pH was increased from 8.26 to 9.12 in HA and from 8.26 to 8.64 in VA, whereas the conductivity was decreased from 1.99 to 1.54 mS/cm in HA and from 1.99 to 1.46 mS/cm in VA accompanied with the removal of TPH. Considering both enhanced biodegradation of hydrocarbon and generation of charge in HA, the MFC with anodes horizontally arranged is a promising configuration for future applications.


Microbial fuel cells Petroleum hydrocarbons Soil remediation Anode arrangement 



This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology as an 863 project (2012AA101403-2), the MOE Innovative Research Team in University (IRT13024), the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Nos. 21107053 and 21037002), the Ministry of Science and Technology as an 863 major project (2013AA06A205), and the Tianjin Research Program of Application Foundation and Advanced Technology (13JCQNJC08000).


  1. Anderson RT, Vrionis HA, Ortiz-Bernad I, Resch CT, Long PE, Dayvault R, Karp K, Marutzky S, Metzler DR, Peacock A (2003) Stimulating the in situ activity of Geobacter species to remove uranium from the groundwater of a uranium-contaminated aquifer. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:5884–5891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cai Z, Zhou Q, Peng S, Li K (2010) Promoted biodegradation and microbiological effects of petroleum hydrocarbons by Impatiens balsamina L. with strong endurance. J Hazard Mater 183:731–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Das N, Chandran P (2010) Microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants: an overview. Biotechnol Res IntGoogle Scholar
  4. Domínguez-Garay A, Berná A, Ortiz-Bernad I, Esteve-Núñez A (2013) Silica colloid formation enhances performance of sediment microbial fuel cells in a low conductivity soil. Environ Sci Technol 47:2117–2122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Guo G, Zhou Q (2003) Advances of research on combined pollution in soil-plant systems. J Appl Ecol 14:823–828Google Scholar
  6. Hong SW, Chang IS, Choi YS, Kim BH, Chung TH (2009) Responses from freshwater sediment during electricity generation using microbial fuel cells. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 32:389–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jung S (2012) Impedance Analysis of Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, and their Coculture in Bioeletrochemical Systems. Int J Electrochem Sci 7:11091–11100Google Scholar
  8. Jung S, Mench MM, Regan JM (2011) Impedance characteristics and polarization behavior of a microbial fuel cell in response to short-term changes in medium pH. Environ Sci Technol 45:9069–9074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jung S, Kim Y, Kang H (2014) Denitrification rates and their controlling factors in streams of the Han River Basin with different land-use patterns. Pedosphere 24:516–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kaimi E, Mukaidani T, Tamaki M (2007) Screening of twelve plant species for phytoremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. Plant Prod Sci 10:211–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Leahy JG, Colwell RR (1990) Microbial degradation of hydrocarbons in the environment. Microbiol Rev 54:305–315Google Scholar
  12. Li X, Wang X, Zhang Y, Ding N, Zhou Q (2014) Opening size optimization of metal matrix in rolling-pressed activated carbon air-cathode for microbial fuel cells. Appl Energy 123:13–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu H, Logan BE (2004) Electricity generation using an air-cathode single chamber microbial fuel cell in the presence and absence of a proton exchange membrane. Environ Sci Technol 38:4040–4046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lovley DR (2006) Bug juice: harvesting electricity with microorganisms. Nat Rev Microbiol 4:497–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lu L, Huggins T, Jin S, Zuo Y, Ren ZJ (2014) Microbial metabolism and community structure in response to bioelectrochemically enhanced remediation of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. Environ Sci Technol 48:4021–4029Google Scholar
  16. Margesin R, Labbe D, Schinner F, Greer C, Whyte L (2003) Characterization of hydrocarbon-degrading microbial populations in contaminated and pristine alpine soils. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:3085–3092CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Meagher RB (2000) Phytoremediation of toxic elemental and organic pollutants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 3:153–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morris JM, Jin S (2008) Feasibility of using microbial fuel cell technology for bioremediation of hydrocarbons in groundwater. J Environ Sci Health Part A Toxic/Hazard Subst Environ Eng 43:18–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Morris JM, Jin S (2012) Enhanced biodegradation of hydrocarbon-contaminated sediments using microbial fuel cells. J Hazard Mater 213:474–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Morris JM, Jin S, Crimi B, Pruden A (2009) Microbial fuel cell in enhancing anaerobic biodegradation of diesel. Chem Eng J 146:161–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Prince RC, Bragg JR (1997) Shoreline bioremediation following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. Biorem J 1:97–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Riser-Roberts E (1998) Remediation of petroleum contaminated soils: biological, physical, and chemical processes. CRC Press, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sarkar D, Ferguson M, Datta R, Birnbaum S (2005) Bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in contaminated soils: comparison of biosolids addition, carbon supplementation, and monitored natural attenuation. Environ Pollut 136:187–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tang J, Wang R, Niu X, Wang M, Chu H, Zhou Q (2010a) Characterisation of the rhizoremediation of petroleum-contaminated soil: effect of different influencing factors. Biogeosciences 7:3961–3969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tang J, Wang R, Niu X, Zhou Q (2010b) Enhancement of soil petroleum remediation by using a combination of ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and different microorganisms. Soil Tillage Res 110:87–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ting Y, Hu H, Tan H (1999) Bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil microcosms. Resour Environ Biotechnol 2:197–218Google Scholar
  27. Tyagi M, da Fonseca MMR, de Carvalho CC (2011) Bioaugmentation and biostimulation strategies to improve the effectiveness of bioremediation processes. Biodegradation 22:231–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wang X, Cheng S, Feng Y, Merrill MD, Saito T, Logan BE (2009) Use of carbon mesh anodes and the effect of different pretreatment methods on power production in microbial fuel cells. Environ Sci Technol 43:6870–6874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang X, Cai Z, Zhou Q, Zhang Z, Chen C (2012) Bioelectrochemical stimulation of petroleum hydrocarbon degradation in saline soil using U-tube microbial fuel cells. Biotechnol Bioeng 109:426–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang X, Feng C, Ding N, Zhang Q, Li N, Li X, Zhang Y, Zhou Q (2014) Accelerated OH-transport in activated carbon air-cathode by modification of quaternary ammonium for microbial fuel cells. Environ Sci Technol 48:4191–4198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhang T, Gannon SM, Nevin KP, Franks AE, Lovley DR (2010) Stimulating the anaerobic degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons in contaminated sediments by providing an electrode as the electron acceptor. Environ Microbiol 12:1011–1020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zhou Q, Sun F, Liu R (2005) Joint chemical flushing of soils contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. Environ Int 31:835–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria/Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control/College of Environmental Science and EngineeringNankai UniversityTianjinChina

Personalised recommendations