Nitrate removal from groundwater driven by electricity generation and heterotrophic denitrification in a bioelectrochemical system

Yiran Tong, Zhen He

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60 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research aims to develop a new approach for in situ nitrate removal from groundwater by using a bioelectrochemical system (BES). The BES employs bioelectricity generated from organic compounds to drive nitrate moving from groundwater into the anode and reduces nitrate to nitrogen gas by heterotrophic denitrification. This laboratory study of a bench-scale BES demonstrated effective nitrate removal from both synthetic and actual groundwater. It was found that applying an electrical potential improved the nitrate removal and the highest nitrate removal rate of 208.2±13.3g NO3--Nm-3d-1 was achieved at 0.8V. Although the open circuit condition (no electricity generation) still resulted in a nitrate removal rate of 158.5±4.2gm-3d-1 due to ion exchange, electricity production could inhibit ion exchange and prevent introducing other undesired ions into groundwater. The nitrate removal rate exhibited a linear relationship with the initial nitrate concentration in groundwater. The BES produced a higher current density of 33.4Am-3 and a higher total coulomb of 244.7±9.1C from the actual groundwater than the synthetic groundwater, likely because other ions in the actual groundwater promoted ion movement to assist electricity generation. Further development of this BES will need to address several key challenges in anode feeding solution, ion competition, and long-term stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-619
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Volume262
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2013

Keywords

  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Groundwater
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Nitrate

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