The dispersion of granules in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor represents a critical technical issue in methanolic wastewater treatment. In this study, the potentials of coupling a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) into an UASB reactor for improving methanolic wastewater biodegradation, long-term process stability and biomethane recovery were evaluated. The results indicated that coupling a MEC system was capable of improving the overall performance of UASB reactor for methanolic wastewater treatment. The combined system maintained the comparatively higher methane yield and COD removal efficiency over the single UASB process through the entire process, with the methane production at the steady-state conditions approaching 1504.7 ± 92.2 mL-CH4 L−1-reactor d−1, around 10.1% higher than the control UASB (i.e. 1366.4 ± 71.0 mL-CH4 L−1-reactor d−1). The further characterizations verified that the input of external power source could stimulate the metabolic activity of microbes and reinforced the EPS secretion. The produced EPS interacted with Fe2+/3+ liberated during anodic corrosion of iron electrode to create a gel-like three-dimensional [-Fe-EPS-]n matrix, which promoted cell-cell cohesion and maintained the structural integrity of granules. Further observations via SEM and FISH analysis demonstrated that the use of bioelectrochemical stimulation promoted the growth and proliferation of microorganisms, which diversified the degradation routes of methanol, convert the wasted CO2 into methane and accordingly increased the process stability and methane productivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis