High-quality effluent and electricity production from non-CEM based flow-through type microbial fuel cell

Kyoung Yeol Kim, Kyu Jung Chae, Mi Jin Choi, Eun Tae Yang, Moon Hyun Hwang, In S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


A new flow-through type microbial fuel cell (MFC) system was developed for practical application as a wastewater treatment process. The ultrafiltration MFC (UF-MFC), which has a UF membrane instead of an expensive cation exchange membrane (CEM) as a separator, was designed to continuously filter the anode chamber solution to cathode chamber via UF membrane. Through the UF-MFC system, high-quality effluent and electricity generation can be simultaneously achieved by the two different wastewater treatment processes applied, e.g., a biological organic pollutant removal in the anode chamber by electrochemically active bacteria and a physical filtration by UF membrane. The maximum power density of the UF-MFC was 53.5mW/m2, lower than the power density shown by comparison with a Nafion based two-chambered MFC (55.7mW/m2). However, the UF-MFC continuously produced high-quality effluent that did not need further post-treatment processes, showing a high and stable COD removal efficiency (>90%), and high rejection rate for total coliform (>97%) and suspended solids during 20d operation. This study confirmed that UF-MFC s could be a promising technology for both of efficient wastewater treatment and energy recovery from wastewater in future wastewater treatment plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-23
Number of pages5
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 5
Externally publishedYes


  • Flow-through type
  • High-quality effluent
  • Membrane bioreactor (MBR)
  • Non-CEM based
  • Ultrafiltration microbial fuel cell (UF-MFC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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