Electricity generation from swine wastewater using microbial fuel cells

Booki Min, Jung Rae Kim, Sang Eun Oh, John M. Regan, Bruce E. Logan

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770 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent a new method for treating animal wastewaters and simultaneously producing electricity. Preliminary tests using a two-chambered MFC with an aqueous cathode indicated that electricity could be generated from swine wastewater containing 8320±190 mg/L of soluble chemical oxygen demand (SCOD) (maximum power density of 45 mW/m2). More extensive tests with a single-chambered air cathode MFC produced a maximum power density with the animal wastewater of 261 mW/m2 (200 Ω resistor), which was 79% larger than that previously obtained with the same system using domestic wastewater (146±8 mW/m2) due to the higher concentration of organic matter in the swine wastewater. Power generation as a function of substrate concentration was modeled according to saturation kinetics, with a maximum power density of Pmax=225mW/m2 (fixed 1000 Ω resistor) and half-saturation concentration of Ks=1512mg/L (total COD). Ammonia was removed from 198±1 to 34±1 mg/L (83% removal). In order to try to increase power output and overall treatment efficiency, diluted (1:10) wastewater was sonicated and autoclaved. This pretreated wastewater generated 16% more power after treatment (110±4 mW/m2) than before treatment (96±4 mW/m2). SCOD removal was increased from 88% to 92% by stirring diluted wastewater, although power output slightly decreased. These results demonstrate that animal wastewaters such as this swine wastewater can be used for power generation in MFCs while at the same time achieving wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4961-4968
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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