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Treatment and desalination of domestic wastewater for water reuse in a four-chamber microbial desalination cell


Microbial desalination cells (MDCs) have been studied for contaminant removal from wastewater and salinity reduction in saline water. However, in an MDC wastewater treatment and desalination occurs in different streams, and high salinity of the treated wastewater creates challenges for wastewater reuse. Herein, a single-stream MDC (SMDC) with four chambers was developed for simultaneous organic removal and desalination in the same synthetic wastewater. This SMDC could achieve a desalination rate of 12.2–31.5 mg L−1 h−1 and remove more than 90 % of the organics and 75 % of NH4 +-N; the pH imbalance between the anode and cathode chambers was also reduced. Several strategies such as controlling catholyte pH, increasing influent COD concentration, adopting the batch mode, applying external voltage, and increasing the alkalinity of wastewater were investigated for improving the SMDC performance. Under a condition of 0.4 V external voltage, anolyte pH adjustment, and a batch mode, the SMDC decreased the wastewater salinity from 1.45 to below 0.75 mS cm−1, which met the salinity standard of wastewater for irrigation. Those results encourage further development of the SMDC technology for sustainable wastewater treatment and reuse.

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This publication was made possible by NPRP grant no. 6-289-2-125 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

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Correspondence to Zhen He.

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Responsible editor: Bingcai Pan

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Lu, Y., Abu-Reesh, I.M. & He, Z. Treatment and desalination of domestic wastewater for water reuse in a four-chamber microbial desalination cell. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 17236–17245 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6910-z

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  • Microbial desalination cells
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Reuse
  • Electrodialysis
  • Sustainability
  • Bioenergy