Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 33, pp 26040–26048 | Cite as

Simultaneous energy generation and UV quencher removal from landfill leachate using a microbial fuel cell

  • Syeed Md Iskander
  • John T. Novak
  • Brian Brazil
  • Zhen He
Research Article


The presence of UV quenching compounds in landfill leachate can negatively affect UV disinfection in a wastewater treatment plant when leachate is co-treated. Herein, a microbial fuel cell (MFC) was investigated to remove UV quenchers from a landfill leachate with simultaneous bioelectricity generation. The key operating parameters including hydraulic retention time (HRT), anolyte recirculation rate, and external resistance were systematically studied to maximize energy recovery and UV absorbance reduction. It was found that nearly 50% UV absorbance was reduced under a condition of HRT 40 days, continuous anolyte recirculation, and 10 Ω external resistance. Further analysis showed a total reduction of organics by 75.3%, including the reduction of humic acids, fulvic acids, and hydrophilic fraction concentration as TOC. The MFC consumed 0.056 kWh m−3 by its pump system for recirculation and oxygen supply. A reduced HRT of 20 days with periodical anode recirculation (1 hour in every 24 hours) and 39 Ω external resistance (equal to the internal resistance of the MFC) resulted in the highest net energy of 0.123 kWh m−3. Granular activated carbon (GAC) was used as an effective post-treatment step and could achieve 89.1% UV absorbance reduction with 40 g L−1. The combined MFC and GAC treatment could reduce 92.9% of the UV absorbance and remove 89.7% of the UV quenchers. The results of this study would encourage further exploration of using MFCs as an energy-efficient method for removing UV quenchers from landfill leachate.


Landfill leachate UV absorbance UV quenchers Energy production Microbial fuel cell 



This work was financially supported by a grant from the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. The authors would like to thank Mr. Melvin Wyatt (Waste Management, Inc.) for his help with leachate collection.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_231_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
ESM 1. Change in organic concentrations after MFC treatment of leachate for different operating conditions and change in organic concentrations after 40 g L-1 GAC treatment of the effluent of C4 are shown in Table S1-2. Chemical oxygen demand removal after 12 hours of GAC treatment of the MFC treated leachate (effluent from C4) is shown in Fig. S1. (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Waste ManagementGaithersburgUSA

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