A submersible microbial fuel cell (SMFC) was utilized to treat sewage sludge and simultaneously generate electricity. Stable power generation (145 ± 5 mW/m2, 470 Ω) was produced continuously from raw sewage sludge for 5.5 days. The maximum power density reached 190 ± 5 mW/m2. The corresponding total chemical oxygen demand (TCOD) removal efficiency was 78.1 ± 0.2% with initial TCOD of 49.7 g/L. The power generation of SMFC was depended on the sludge concentration, while dilution of the raw sludge resulted in higher power density. The maximum power density was saturated at sludge concentration of 17 g-TCOD/L, where 290 mW/m2 was achieved. When effluents from an anaerobic digester that was fed with raw sludge were used as substrate in the SMFC, a maximum power density of 318 mW/m2, and a final TCOD removal of 71.9 ± 0.2% were achieved. These results have practical implications for development of an effective system to treat sewage sludge and simultaneously recover energy.
Keywords: anaerobic digestion, electricity generation, sewage sludge, submersible microbial fuel cell, TCOD removal efficiency