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Title: Scale-up of microbial fuel cells for wastewater treatment
Author: Winfield, Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 3172
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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For decades microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have offered the potential to treat wastewater while concomitantly producing power, but to date scale-up has not been achieved. The goal for this thesis was initially to explore the capabilities of MFCs in the laboratory and then to test the technology in the wastewater treatment environment. The aim was to operate the demonstrator in an existing process, without altering infrastructure or adding extra energy (Le. pumping). Laboratory work yielded novel findings helping to achieve the thesis objective while also contributing to MFC knowledge. Investigations into the anodic development period revealed that inoculating while in continuous-flow primed MFCs for operation in conditions of high flow-rate. The phenomenon 'power overshoot' was described and its occurrence explained in terms of the internal resistance of the MFC. A new miniature tubular MFC was designed and up to seven units were connected in fluidic series (cascade) to mimic the trickling filter process. These efficiently removed up to 90% COD, to levels that comply with European guidelines. The influence that fluidic connection had on MFCs in terms of flow-rate and external resistance was described for the first time. To mimic hostile flocculating conditions, MFCs were fed feedstock with varying ferric chloride concentrations. Power production, COD treatment, metal reduction and increased pH were all achieved suggesting the technology could supplement and improve existing processes. Utilising experience gained in the laboratory and following visits to Wessex Water, the trickling filter was selected as test location for the demonstrator. Using a variation on the novel tubular design, under field conditions at the Saltford treatment plant, MFCs demonstrated the ability to produce power while reducing COD to levels acceptable for release into the environment. These results strongly support the hypothesis that MFCs are becoming ready to be incorporated into the wastewater treatment process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available