The effect of start-up on energy recovery and compositional changes in brewery wastewater in bioelectrochemical systems

Johanna M. Haavisto, Marika E. Kokko, Aino Maija Lakaniemi, Mira L.K. Sulonen, Jaakko A. Puhakka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Start-up of bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) fed with brewery wastewater was compared at different adjusted anode potentials (−200 and 0 mV vs. Ag/AgCl) and external resistances (50 and 1000 Ω). Current generation stabilized faster with the external resistances (9 ± 3 and 1.70 ± 0.04 A/m3 with 50 and 1000 Ω, respectively), whilst significantly higher current densities of 76 ± 39 and 44 ± 9 A/m3 were obtained with the adjusted anode potentials of −200 and 0 mV vs. Ag/AgCl, respectively. After start-up, when operated using 47 Ω external resistance, the current densities and Coulombic efficiencies of all BESs stabilized to 9.5 ± 2.9 A/m3 and 12 ± 2%, respectively, demonstrating that the start-up protocols were not critical for long-term BES operation in microbial fuel cell mode. With adjusted anode potentials, two times more biofilm biomass (measured as protein) was formed by the end of the experiment as compared to start-up with the fixed external resistances. After start-up, the organics in the brewery wastewater, mainly sugars and alcohols, were transformed to acetate (1360 ± 250 mg/L) and propionate (610 ± 190 mg/L). Optimized start-up is required for prompt BES recovery, for example, after process disturbances. Based on the results of this study, adjustment of anode potential to −200 mV vs. Ag/AgCl is recommended for fast BES start-up.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107402
Number of pages8
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adjusted anode potential
  • Brewery wastewater
  • External resistance
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Process recovery
  • Start-up protocol

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry

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