Scale-up of phosphate remobilization from sewage sludge in a microbial fuel cell
Phosphate remobilization from digested sewage sludge containing iron phosphate was scaled-up in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). A 3 litre triple chambered MFC was constructed. This reactor was operated as a microbial fuel cell and later as a microbial electrolysis cell to accelerate cathodic phosphate remobilization. Applying an additional voltage and exceeding native MFC power accelerated chemical base formation and the related phosphate remobilization rate. The electrolysis approach was extended using a platinum-RVC cathode. The pH rose to 12.6 and phosphate was recovered by 67% in 26 h. This was significantly faster than using microbial fuel cell conditions. Shrinking core modelling particle fluid kinetics showed that the reaction resistance has to move inside the sewage sludge particle for considerable rate enhancement. Remobilized phosphate was subsequently precipitated as struvite and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry indicated low levels of cadmium, lead, and other metals as required by law for recycling fertilizers. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.