Effect of anolytic nitrite concentration on electricity generation and electron transfer in a dual-chamber microbial fuel cell

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This study reports the effect of anolytic nitrite concentration on electricity generation and electron transfer in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Anolytic nitrite enhanced the electricity generation capability of the MFCs at relatively low concentrations (< 60 mg·L−1) but inhibited the activity of anodic electrogenic bacteria at high concentrations. In the anode chamber of the MFC, nitrite was converted to nitrate-releasing electrons before being quickly removed through denitrification. Nitrite alone (in the absence of organic matters) could not perform as an electricity production matrix but promoted electricity production as a co-matrix in the MFC. At an influent nitrite concentration of 60 mg·L−1, the coulombic efficiency of the MFC was minimized at approximately 5.4%, and the charge transfer resistance was also lowest, while the concentrations of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and cytochrome c were both maximized. Higher anolytic nitrite concentrations (> 60 mg·L−1) inhibited the production of cytochrome c and EPS and increased the charge transfer resistance, thereby reducing the efficiency of electron transfer in the anodic biofilm. The results provide valuable guidelines for MFC applications in wastewater treatment processes with nitrite-containing influents.

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This research was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC0400805), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51878466) and the National Science and Technology Major Project of China on Water Pollution Control and Management (2017ZX07206-001). We also thank the 111 project (B13017) of Tongji University. Dr. Rongchang Wang was supported by the Shanghai Peak Discipline Program at Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security.

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Wang, R., Wang, X., Zhou, X. et al. Effect of anolytic nitrite concentration on electricity generation and electron transfer in a dual-chamber microbial fuel cell. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020).

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  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Electricity generation
  • Nitrite removal
  • Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
  • Cytochrome c