Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 472–485 | Cite as

Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Leachate Treatment and Electricity Production Using Microbial Fuel Cells

  • Lisa Damiano
  • Jenna R. Jambeck
  • David B. Ringelberg


Microbial fuel cells were designed and operated to treat landfill leachate while simultaneously producing electricity. Two designs were tested in batch cycles using landfill leachate as a substrate without inoculation (908 to 3,200 mg/L chemical oxygen demand (COD)): Circle (934 mL) and large-scale microbial fuel cells (MFC) (18.3 L). A total of seven cycles were completed for the Circle MFC and two cycles for the larger-scale MFC. Maximum power densities of 24 to 31 mW/m2 (653 to 824 mW/m3) were achieved using the Circle MFC, and a maximum voltage of 635 mV was produced using the larger-scale MFC. In the Circle MFC, COD, biological oxygen demand (BOD), total organic carbon (TOC), and ammonia were removed at an average of 16%, 62%, 23%, and 20%, respectively. The larger-scale MFC achieved an average of 74% BOD removal, 27% TOC removal, and 25% ammonia reduction while operating over 52 days. Analysis of the microbial characteristics of the leachate indicates that there might be both supportive and inhibiting bacteria in landfill leachate for operation of an MFC. Issues related to scale-up and heterogeneity of a mixed substrate remain.


Landfill leachate Leachate treatment Municipal solid waste MFC 



The authors acknowledge the donation of Waste Management’s Turnkey Landfill leachate for this work and the Environmental Research and Education Foundation for funding this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Damiano
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jenna R. Jambeck
    • 2
  • David B. Ringelberg
    • 3
  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.US Army ERDC-CRRELHanoverUSA
  4. 4.Sandborne Head and AssociatesConcordUSA

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