Domestic wastewater hydrolysis and lipolysis during start-up in anaerobic digesters and microbial fuel cells at moderate temperatures

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Raw wastewater hydrolysis rates during start-up in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, seeded with a mesophilic inoculum from a digester, were compared at moderate temperatures (27.5 ℃ and 8 ℃). Temperature drop affected both the lipids and carbohydrates hydrolysis rates but not necessarily the protein removal rates (temperature-independent rates of MFC), which were significantly influenced from treatment alteration (AD to MFC). MFC showed robust proteolysis at low temperature compared to AD; the latter seems to have a higher potential at warmer conditions. A lipases activity assay showed that although at 27.5 ℃ both AD and MFC are likely to hydrolyse lipids, the latter has a higher lipolysis potential at low temperatures. Preliminary community structure analysis showed that the switch from AD to MFC alters the bacterial community by 15% with the MFC showing higher diversification; temperature decrease, though, alters the community by 40%. Key organisms that appear to be favoured at the MFC set-ups are Geobacteriaceae, taxa likely related to the hydrolytic capacity of this set-up.

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taken from the headspace; error bars stand for standard error (n = 3)

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This work funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK (Grant reference EP/G032033/1). The authors would also like to thank Mr. Kangxu Wang for his assistance with the chemical–molecular tests and Dr. Jan Dolfing for reviewing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to E. Petropoulos.

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Editorial responsibility: M. Abbaspour.

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Petropoulos, E., Shamurad, B., Acharya, K. et al. Domestic wastewater hydrolysis and lipolysis during start-up in anaerobic digesters and microbial fuel cells at moderate temperatures. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 17, 27–38 (2020).

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  • Cold-adapted
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lipolysis
  • Low-temperature wastewater treatment
  • Microbial fuel cells