Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



Ziara, Rami MM, Bruce I. Dvorak, and Jeyamkondan Subbiah. "Sustainable Waste-to-Energy Technologies: Bioelectrochemical Systems." In Sustainable Food Waste-To-energy Systems, pp. 111-140. Academic Press, 2018.

doi 10.1016/B978-0-12-811157-4.00007-3


Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


The food industry produces a large amount of waste and wastewater, of which most of the constituents are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and organic fibers. Therefore food wastes are highly biodegradable and energy rich. Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) are systems that use microorganisms to biochemically catalyze complex substrates into useful energy products, in which the catalytic reactions take place on electrodes. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a type of bioelectrochemical systems that oxidize substrates and generate electric current. Microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) are another type of bioelectrochemical systems that use an external power source to catalyze the substrate into by-products such as hydrogen gas, methane gas, or hydrogen peroxide. BESs are advantageous due to their ability to achieve a degree of substrate remediation while generating energy. This chapter presents an extensive literature review on the use of MFCs and MECs to remediate and recover energy from food industry waste. These bioelectrochemical systems are still in their infancy state and further research is needed to better understand the systems and optimize their performance. Major challenges and limitations for the use of BESs are summarized and future research needs are identified.