Self-sustaining advanced wastewater purification and simultaneous in situ nutrient recovery in a novel bioelectrochemical system

Xi Chen, Han Zhou, Kuichang Zuo, Yue Zhou, Qiuying Wang, Dongya Sun, Yifan Gao, Peng Liang, Xiaoyuan Zhang, Zhiyong Jason Ren, Xia Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Wastewater containing abundant organics and nutrient resources requires large energy input in conventional treatment technologies to reach the discharge standard and/or to recover nutrient resources. This study presents a self-sustaining advanced wastewater purification and in situ nutrient recovery process accomplished by a newly designed 10-liter-scale bioelectrochemical system containing membrane stack configuration, which was called an advanced microbial nutrient recovery cell (AMNRC). After subsequent treatments in the AMNRC's anode, cathode and stacked desalination chambers, all the removals of organics and nutrient in the domestic wastewater were achieved higher than 95%, which represented <24.9 mg/L of chemical oxygen demand, <14.2 mg/L of total nitrogen (TN), <6.5 mg/L of ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N), and <0.49 mg/L of total phosphorus (TP) were left in the final effluent. Three sequential treatment processes including anaerobic microbial degradation, aerobic microbial treatment, and electrical ion migration comprehensively facilitated the above removals. Meanwhile TN, NH4+-N and TP were concentrated in the recovery solution by 260%, 150%, and 490%, respectively. Ammonium and phosphate were then recovered as struvite during crystallization. The AMNRC was proved as an energy neutral approach to efficiently purify wastewater and simultaneously recover nutrient, the treatment processes were driven by the energy extracted from wastewater itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-697
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


  • Advanced wastewater purification
  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Directional ion migration
  • Membrane stacks
  • Nutrient recovery


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