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Acclimatisation of microbial consortia to alkaline conditions and enhanced electricity generation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Enren Zhang, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott, Xu Wang



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Air-cathode microbial fuel cells (MFCs), obtained by inoculating with an aerobic activated sludge, from a brewery waste treatment, were activated over a one month period, at pH 10.0, to obtain alkaline MFCs. The alkaline MFCs produced stable power of 118 mW m-2 (or 23.6 W m-3) and a maximum power density of 213 mW m-2 at pH 10.0. The performance of the MFCs was enhanced to produce a stable power of 140 mW m-2 and a maximum power density of 235 mW m-2 by increasing pH to 11.0. This is the highest pH for stably operating MFCs reported in the literature. Power production was found to be suppressed at higher pH (12.0) and lower pH (9.0). Microbial analysis with high-throughput sequencing indicated that Firmicutes phylum was largely enriched in the anodic biofilms (88%), within which Eremococcus genus was the dominant group (47%). To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that Eremococcus genus was described in bio-electrochemical systems. Some alkaliphilic genera, including Bacillus (2.1%), Alkalibacter (5.1%), Anoxynatronum (0.5%), Alkaliphilus (0.09%), Alkaliflexus (2.1%), Nitrincola (1.1%) and Corynebacterium (0.55%) were also enriched in the present alkaline MFCs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhang E, Zhaia W, Luoa Y, Scott K, Wang X, Diaoa G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bioresource Technology

Year: 2016

Volume: 211

Pages: 736-742

Print publication date: 01/07/2016

Online publication date: 04/04/2016

Acceptance date: 21/03/2016

Date deposited: 11/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0960-8524

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2976

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2016.03.115


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Funder referenceFunder name
Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions
21173184National Natural Science Foundation of China
21406171National Natural Science Foundation of China