Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 185–191 | Cite as

Nitrogen recovery from wastewater using microbial fuel cells

  • Yong Xiao
  • Yue Zheng
  • Song Wu
  • Zhao-Hui Yang
  • Feng Zhao
Research Article


Nitrogen is one of major contaminants in wastewater; however, nitrogen, as bio-elements for crop growth, is the indispensable fertilizer in agriculture. In this study, two-chamber microbial fuel cells (MFCs) were first operated with microorganisms in anode chamber and potassium ferricyanide as catholyte. After being successfully startup, the two-chamber MFCs were re-constructed to three-chamber MFCs which were used to recover the NO 3 -N and NH 4 + -N of synthetic wastewater into valueadded nitrogenous fertilizer from cathode chamber and anode chamber, respectively. Ferric nitrate was used as the sole electron acceptor in cathode, which also was used to evaluate the NO 3 -N recover efficiency in the case major anion of NO 3 in cathode. The output voltage of these MFCs was about 600–700 mVat an external load of 500 Ω. About 47% NH 4 + -N in anode chamber and 83% NO 3 -N in cathode chamber could be recovered. Higher current density can selectively improve the recovery efficiency of both NH 4 + -N and NO 3 — N. The study demonstrated a nitrogen recovery process from synthetic wastewater using three-chamber MFCs.


nitrogen recovery microbial fuel cells (MFCs) electromigration wastewater treatment 


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Xiao
    • 1
  • Yue Zheng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Song Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhao-Hui Yang
    • 2
  • Feng Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Urban EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXiamenChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringHunan UniversityChangshaChina

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