Performance of pilot-scale microbial fuel cells treating wastewater with associated bioenergy production in the Caribbean context

Kiran Tota-Maharaj, Parneet Paul*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology represents a form of renewable energy that generates bioelectricity from what would otherwise be considered a waste stream. MFCs may be ideally suited to the small island developing state (SIDS) context, such as Trinidad and Tobago where seawater as the main electrolyte is readily available, and economically renewable and sustainable electricity is also deemed a priority. Hence this project tested two identical laboratory-scaled MFC systems that were specifically designed and developed for the Caribbean regional context. They consisted of two separate chambers: an anaerobic anodic chamber inoculated with wastewater and an aerobic cathodic chamber separated by a proton exchange membrane. Domestic wastewater from two various wastewater treatment plants inflow (after screening) was placed into the anodic chamber, and seawater from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Paria placed into the cathodic chambers, respectively, with the bacteria present in the wastewater attached to the anode. Experimental results demonstrated that the bacterial degradation of the wastewaters as substrate induced an electron flow through the electrodes producing bioelectricity whilst simultaneously reducing the organic matter as biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand by 30 to 75 %. The average bioenergy output for both systems was 84 and 96 mW/m2, respectively. This study demonstrated the potential for simultaneous bioenergy production and wastewater treatment in the SIDS context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-220
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.


  • Bioelectricity
  • Bioenergy
  • Microbial fuel cell (MFC)
  • Small island developing state (SIDS)
  • Treatment
  • Wastewater


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