Phosphate recovery as struvite within a single chamber microbial electrolysis cell

Roland D. Cusick, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An energy efficient method of concurrent hydrogen gas and struvite (MgNH 4PO 4·6H 2O) production was investigated based on bioelectrochemically driven struvite crystallization at the cathode of a single chamber microbial electrolysis struvite-precipitation cell (MESC). The MESC cathodes were either stainless steel 304 mesh or flat plates. Phosphate removal ranged from 20% to 40%, with higher removals obtained using mesh cathodes than with flat plates. Cathode accumulated crystals were verified as struvite using a scanning electron microscope capable of energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Crystal accumulation did not affect the rate of hydrogen production in struvite reactors. The rate of struvite crystallization (g/m 2-h) and hydrogen production (m 3/m 3-d) were shown to be dependent on applied voltage and cathode material. Overall energy efficiencies (substrate and electricity) were high (73±4%) and not dependent on applied voltage. These results show that MESCs may be useful both as a method for hydrogen gas and struvite production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Microbial electrochemical systems
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Phosphate removal
  • Struvite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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