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Evaluation of energy consumption of treating nitrate-contaminated groundwater by bioelectrochemical systems
- Cecconet, Daniele, Zou, Shiqiang, Capodaglio, Andrea G., He, Zhen
- The Science of the total environment 2018 v.636 pp. 881-890
- bioelectrochemistry, denitrification, drinking water, energy efficiency, environmental impact, groundwater, groundwater contamination, microbial fuel cells, nitrates, specific energy, water table
- Nitrate contamination of groundwater is a mounting concern for drinking water production due to its healthy and ecological effects. Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are a promising method for energy efficient nitrate removal, but its energy consumption has not been well understood. Herein, we conducted a preliminary analysis of energy consumption based on both literature information and multiple assumptions. Four scenarios were created for the purpose of analysis based on two treatment approaches, microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and controlled biocathodic denitrification (CBD), under either in situ or ex situ deployment. The results show a specific energy consumption based on the mass of NO3−-N removed (SECN) of 0.341 and 1.602 kWh kg NO3−-N−1 obtained from in situ and ex situ treatments with MFCs, respectively; the main contributor was the extraction of the anolyte (100%) in the former and pumping the groundwater (74.8%) for the latter. In the case of CBD treatment, the energy consumption by power supply outcompeted all the other energy items (over 85% in all cases), and a total SECN of 19.028 and 10.003 kWh kg NO3−-N−1 were obtained for in situ and ex situ treatments, respectively. The increase in the water table depth (from 10 to 30 m) and the decrease of the nitrate concentration (from 25 to 15 mg NO3−-N) would lead to a rise in energy consumption in the ex situ treatment. Although some data might be premature due to the lack of sufficient information in available literature, the results could provide an initial picture of energy consumption by BES-based groundwater treatment and encourage further thinking and analysis of energy consumption (and production).