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Perspective of harnessing energy from landfill leachate via microbial fuel cells: novel biofuels and electrogenic physiologies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jan DolfingORCiD


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Organic carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur are highly concentrated in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill leachate, which usually frustrates conventional leachate treatment technologies from the perspective of energy costs. Therefore, the possibility of converting leachate to a new energy source via microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology has been examined recently. This paper summarizes the power output and energy recovery efficiency of the leachate-fed MFCs according to different feeding patterns, cell structures, and loading rates. Also, we assess potential energy-generating chemicals in leachate like nitrogen and sulfur compounds and propose alternative pathways, which may lift strict ratios between organic carbon and nitrogen content in conventional denitrification of leachate and are expected to achieve a higher voltage than traditional organic-oxygen based cells. Although currently power output of leachate-fed MFCs is limited, it seems well possible that dynamic characteristics of MSW leachates and microbial physiologies underlying some bio-electrochemically efficient activities (e.g., direct interspecies electron transfer) could be stimulated in MFC systems to improve the present status

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wu D, Wang T, Huang X, Dolfing J, Xie B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Year: 2015

Volume: 99

Issue: 19

Pages: 7827-7836

Print publication date: 01/10/2015

Online publication date: 04/08/2015

Acceptance date: 16/07/2015

ISSN (print): 0175-7598

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0614

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00253-015-6857-x


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Funder referenceFunder name
13520720600Shanghai Project of International Cooperation of Science and Technology
31370510Natural Science Foundation of China
313111197Natural Science Foundation of China
IE131283Royal Society