The technology uses forward osmosis integrated into a microbial fuel cell to improve the efficiency of the fuel cell and the quality of the treated wastewater to meet water reuse requirements. Wastewater flows through the anode chamber where water is drawn across a membrane into the cathode chamber resulting in the generation of electricity an effluent prepared for aerobic digestion and saline water. The saline water can be further processed using desalination methods like reverse osmosis to yield potable water. Current development of this technology is at the benchtop stage with results published in a recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are an attractive technology with great potential for simultaneous wastewater treatment and bioenergy production. The main application of MFCs is secondary biological treatment. There is increasing attention to sustainable wastewater treatment especially producing effluent for water reuse. The effluent from current MFCs cannot meet the reuse requirement. Conventional microbial fuel cells are limited in the extraction of purified water from wastewater and lack the driving force provided by forward osmosis in the the osmotic microbial fuel cell that may promote energy generation.
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