Benefits of age-improved resistance of mature electroactive biofilm anodes in anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion (AD) and microbial electrochemical technologies (MET) can be combined in manifold ways. Recent studies show negative influences of AD effluents on the performance of pre-grown Geobacter spp.-dominated biofilm anodes. In this study, it was investigated how such biofilm anodes are affected by AD effluents. Therefore, experiments using AD effluents in different concentrations (0-100%) in combination with biofilms of different ages were performed. Furthermore, the activity of methanogens was inhibited and minimized by application of 2-bromoethanesulfonate (2-BES) and microfiltration, respectively. Biofilms pre-grown for 5 weeks show higher resistance against AD effluents compared to biofilms pre-grown for only 3 weeks. Nevertheless, adaptation of biofilms to AD effluents was not successful. Biofilm activity in terms of coulombic efficiency and maximum current density (jmₐₓ) dropped by factor 32.2 ± 3.2 and 38.9 ± 8.4, respectively. The application of 2-BES and microfiltration had positive effects on the biofilm activity. The results support the assumption that methanogens or further compounds not studied here, for example, protozoans, which may have been inhibited or removed by 2-BES application or microfiltration, have an immediate influence on the stability of Geobacter spp.-dominated biofilms and may limit their practical application in AD environments.