Effect of external resistance on substrate removal and electricity generation in microbial fuel cell treating sulfide and nitrate simultaneously

  • Jing CaiEmail author
  • Mahmood Qaisar
  • Yue Sun
Research Article


The effect of external resistance on substrate removal and electricity generation was explored in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) simultaneously treating sulfide and nitrate. The MFCs were operated under three different conditions keeping open-circuit MFC as control. In batch mode, all the MFCs showed good capacity of simultaneously removing sulfide and nitrate regardless of external resistance. The voltage profile could be divided into rapid descent zone, bulge zone, and stability zone, which represents typical polarization behavior. Taking open circuit as control, low external resistance promoted the production of sulfate and nitrogen gas, while a strong link between product production and external resistance was evident based on Pearson correlation analyses. In addition, low external resistance improved the amount of transferred electrons, while the peak electronic quantity was noticed when the external resistance was equivalent to internal resistance. Moreover, the mechanism of substrate removal and electricity generation was hypothesized for the MFCs simultaneously treating sulfide and nitrate which explained the results well.


Anaerobic sulfide and nitrate removal External resistance Microbial fuel cells Substrate removal Electricity generation Mechanism 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [51808494], Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China [LY18E080007], and Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China [ZR2019QEE039].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6960_MOESM1_ESM.doc (86 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 86 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringZhejiang Gongshang UniversityZhejiang ProvinceChina
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesCOMSATS University IslamabadAbbottabad CampusPakistan

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