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Keywords:

  • biodegradation;
  • bioelectricity;
  • recovered organic matters;
  • wastewater treatment

An aerated-cathode microbial fuel cell (MFC) was used in this study for bioelectricity generation using the recovered organic matters (ROMs) from real municipal wastewater. Although no preacclimation or inoculation was used before the cell startup, the voltage began to increase as the operation of MFC was started. The working voltage registered the maximum value of 256.3 mV after 120–130 h operation. Proton accumulation and pH deviation in the anode chamber resulted in the deterioration of cell performance during the experiment. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy analysis showed that the polarization resistance was the dominant component of internal resistance compared to the ohm resistance. It was also found that total suspended solids (TSS) and volatile suspended solids (VSS) reduction rate could reach 56.9% and 62.1% in the working MFC, respectively, comparedwith 31.7% of TSS reduction and 31.9% of VSS reduction in the control test. It indicated that bioelectricity generation could enhance the ROMs degradation. Fourier transform infrared spectrometry spectra demonstrated that the aliphatic compounds and protein-like substances related to Amide II could be preferentially hydrolyzed and biodegraded in the working MFC. The hydrolysis of the particulate organic matters was the rate limiting step for bioelectricity generation. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 33: 290–297, 2014