Microbial electrochemical nutrient recovery in anaerobic osmotic membrane bioreactors

Dianxun Hou, Lu Lu, Dongya Sun, Zheng Ge, Xia Huang, Tzahi Y. Cath, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This study demonstrates that by incorporating a microbial electrochemical unit into an anaerobic osmotic membrane bioreactor (AnOMBR), the system addressed several challenges faced by traditional anaerobic membrane bioreactors and recovered biogas, nitrogen, and phosphorus while maintaining high effluent quality with low dissolved methane. The microbial recovery cell (MRC)-AnOMBR system showed excellent organic (>93%) and phosphorus removal (>99%) and maintained effluent COD below 20 mg/L. Furthermore, the reactor effectively recovered up to 65% PO43−and 45% NH4+from the influent, which can be further improved if membranes with higher selectivity are used. Nutrients removal from bulk solution mitigated NH4+penetration to the draw solution and reduced scaling potential caused by PO43−. The maximum methane yield was 0.19 L CH4/g COD, and low methane (<2.5 mL CH4/L) was detected in the effluent. Further improvement can be made by increasing charge efficiency for better nutrient and energy recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Anaerobic osmotic membrane bioreactor
  • Dissolved methane
  • Forward osmosis
  • Microbial electrochemical technology
  • Nutrient recovery


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