Improved Wastewater Treatment by Combined System of Microbial Fuel Cell with Activated Carbon/TiO2 Cathode Catalyst and Membrane Bioreactor

  • G. D. Bhowmick
  • Sovik Das
  • M. M. GhangrekarEmail author
  • A. Mitra
  • R. Banerjee
Original Contribution


A two-stage continuous process was developed for treating medium-strength wastewater combining microbial fuel cell (MFC) using activated carbon (AC)/TiO2 composite as cathode catalyst and submerged membrane bioreactor (MBR). Synthetic wastewater, having total chemical oxygen demand (COD) of around 3 g/L, was introduced first in the anodic chamber of MFC in a continuous mode of operation followed by aerobic MBR. Submerged hollow-fibre ultra-filtration membrane assembly was attached to draw permeate from MBR. The electrical performance of MFC was evaluated by polarisation, which showed a maximum volumetric power density of 1.02 W/m3 with much lower whole-cell internal resistance of 10 Ω. The coulombic efficiency of MFC was estimated to be 0.31%, demonstrating AC/TiO2 composite as a promising cathode catalyst for applications in MFC. The permeate of MFC–MBR system showed 98.3 ± 0.3% and 81.9 ± 1.8% of COD and total Kjeldahl nitrogen removal efficiency, respectively, producing permeate with total suspended solids concentration of less than 5 mg/L. Thus, a two-stage reliable process for treatment of wastewater is demonstrated using integrated MFC–MBR for generating high-quality recyclable effluent and facilitating recovery of bio-electricity.


Bio-electricity Cathode catalyst Membrane bioreactor Microbial fuel cell Titanium dioxide Wastewater treatment 



The research project was supported by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (BT/IN/INNO-INDIGO/28/MMG/2015-16) by providing financial assistance. The help extended by Sreemoyee Ghosh Ray during initial experimentation planning is duly acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© The Institution of Engineers (India) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. D. Bhowmick
    • 1
  • Sovik Das
    • 2
  • M. M. Ghangrekar
    • 2
    Email author
  • A. Mitra
    • 1
  • R. Banerjee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Food EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia

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