Review of Bioelectrochemical Membrane Reactors for Sustainable Wastewater Treatment

How can we tackle wastewater treatment in a greener, more sustainable way?

(De Gruyter) – Continuous discharge of wastewater into lakes, rivers, and other streams leads to intensification of vital nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus compounds, metals, and micropollutants. Unfortunately, not every technique associated with wastewater treatment claims nutrient recovery. In wastewater treatment, focus is usually on separation of water from contaminants, and then these contaminants along with essential nutrients are dumped elsewhere. Throughout the treatment process, carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and other gases are also released into the environment.

The authors suggest that the most significant approach would consider wastewater as a resource; reclaiming nutrients and extracting energy out of the process. The optimal wastewater treatment system should be to attain maximum sustainability in terms of energy and carbon and high level of nutrient recuperation, as well as achieving an industrial aim of zero effluent discharge.

The authors review focuses on how all these ambitious milestones can be effectively and efficiently achieved by adapting the bioelectrochemical membrane reactor (BECMR) technique, which is a cost-effective hybrid of the membrane bioreactor (MBR) and microbial fuel cell (MFC) techniques. The argue that a BECMR is efficient at removing industrial effluent and micropollutants compared to other systems and that the technology ensures access of affordable water resources to farmers and rural communities for irrigation and other purposes. Energy generated by wastewater treatment could be used to run the process itself, producing a selfsustainable system.


Edited for Content and Length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

The original full article can be found at De Gruyter in the journal Reviews in Chemical Engineering.

DOI: 10.1515/revce-2016-0012

Reviews in Chemical Engineering 2017, 33(2), 143–161.


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