Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Environment, Water and Waste Engineering, University for Development Studies, P. O. Box: 1882, Nyankpala, Ghana.

2 School of Graduate Studies, Regional Maritime University, P. O. Box: GP 1115, Accra, Ghana

3 Department of Civil Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, P. M. B. Kumasi, Ghana.


This study was conducted to improve the voltage production, desalination, and COD removal efficiencies of a five-chamber Microbial Desalination Cell (MDC). To do this, rhamnolipid was added to anolytes only and catholytes stirred to determine the effects of these factors on the MDC activity. This was followed by a factorial study to investigate the effects of the interactions of rhamnolipid and stirring on the voltage production, desalination, and COD removal efficiencies of the MDC. Increasing the concentration of rhamnolipid to 240 mg/L improved the peak voltage produced from 164.50 ± 0.11 to 623.70 ± 1.32 mV. Also, the desalination efficiency increased from 20.16 ± 1.97 % when no rhamnolipid was added to 24.89 ± 0.50 % at a rhamnolipid concentration of 240 mg/L, and COD removal efficiency increased from 48.74 ± 8.06 % to 64.17 ± 5.00 % at a rhamnolipid concentration of 400 mg/L. In the stirring experiments, increasing the number of stirring events increased peak voltage from 164.50 ± 0.11 to 567.27 ± 18.06 mV. Similarly, desalination and COD removal efficiencies increased from 20.16 ± 1.97 % and 48.74 ± 8.06 % to 24.26 ± 0.97 % and 50.23 ± 1.60 %, respectively, when the number of stirring events was more than twice a day. In the factorial study, voltage production, desalination, and COD removal efficiencies were 647.07 mV, 25.50 %, and 68.15 %, respectively. However, the effect of the interaction between rhamnolipid and stirring was found to be insignificant (p>0.05). Thus, the addition of only rhamnolipid or the stirring of catholytes only can improve the performance of the five-chamber MDC.


Main Subjects

1.     Alhimali, H., Jafary, T., Al-Mamun, A., Baawain, M.S. and Vakili-Nezhaad, G.R., "New insights into the application of microbial desalination cells for desalination and bioelectricity generation", Biofuel Research Journal, Vol. 24, (2019), 1090-1099. (
2.     Santoro, C., Abad, F.B., Serov, A., Kodali, M., Howe, K.J., Soavi, F. and Atanassov, P., "Supercapacitive microbial desalination cells: New class of power generating devices for reduction of salinity content", Applied Energy, Vol. 208, (2017), 25-36. (
3.     Zhang, F., Chen, M., Zhang, Y. and Zeng, R.J., "Microbial desalination cells with ion exchange resin packed to enhance desalination at low salt concentration", Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 417, No. 417-418, (2012), 28-33. (
4.     Morel, A., Zuo, K., Xia, X., Wei, J., Lou, X., Liang, P. and Huang, X., "Microbial desalination cells packed with ion-exchange resin to enhance water desalination rate", Bioresource Technology, Vol. 118, (2012), 243-248. (
5.     Chen, X., Xia, X., Liang, P., Cao, X., Sun, H. and Huang, X., "Stacked microbial desalination cells to enhance water desalination efficiency", Environmental Science Technology, Vol. 45, No. 6, (2011), 2465-2470. (
6.     Ping, Q. and He, Z., "Improving the flexibility of microbial desalination cells through spatially decoupling anode and cathode", Bioresource Technology, Vol. 144, (2013), 304-310. (
7.     Daud, S.M., Daud, W.R.W., Bakar, M.H.A., Kim, B.H., Somalu, M.R., Andanstuti M., Jahim J.J.M.D. and Muhammed A.S.A., "Low-cost novel clay earthenware as separator in microbial electrochemical technology for power output improvement", Bioprocess Biosystems Engineering, Vol. 43, (2020), 1369-1379. (
8.     Ping, Q., Cohen, B., Dosoretz, C. and He, Z., "Long-term investigation of fouling of cation and anion exchange membranes in microbial desalination cells", Desalination, Vol. 325, (2013), 48-55. (
9.     Abubakari, Z.I., Mensah, M., Buamah, R. and Abaidoo, R.C., "Assessment of the electricity generation, desalination and wastewater treatment capacity of a plant microbial desalination cell (PMDC)", International Journal of Energy and Water Resource, Vol. 3, (2019), 213-218. (
10.   Luo, H., Xu, P. and Ren, Z., "Long-term performance and characterization of microbial desalination cells in treating domestic wastewater", Bioresource Technology, Vol. 120, (2012), 187-193. (
11.   Li, Y., Styczynski, J., Huang, Y., Xu, Z., McCutcheon, J. and Li, B., "Energy-positive wastewater treatment and desalination in an integrated microbial desalination cell (MDC)-microbial electrolysis cell (MEC)", Journal of Power Sources, Vol 356, (2017), 529-538. (
12.   Wang Jian, H., Ewusi-Mensah, D. and Jingyu H., "Using C. vulgaris assisted microbial desalination cell as a green technology in landfill leacheate pre-treatment: A factorperformance relation study", Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination, Vol. 10, No. 1, (2020), 1-16. (
13.   Khazraee Zamanpour, M., Kariminia, H.R. and Vossoghi, M., "Electricity generation, desalination and microalgae cultivation in a biocathode-microbial desalination cell", Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, Vol. 5, No. 1, (2016). (
14.   Wen, Q., Kong, F., Ren, Y., Cao, D., Wang, G. and Zheng, H., "Improved performance of microbial fuel cell through addition of rhamnolipid", Electrochemical Communication, Vol. 12, (2010), 1710-1713. (
15.   Pacwa-Płociniczak, M., Płaza, G.A., Piotrowska-Seget, Z. and Swaranjit, S. C., "Environmental applications of biosurfactants: Recent advances", International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 12, No. 1, (2011), 633-665. (
16.   Rismani-Yazdi, H., Carver, S.M., Christy, A.D. and Tuovinen, O.H., "Cathodic limitations in microbial fuel cells: An overview", Journal of Power Sources, Vol. 180, (2008), 683-694. (
17.   Atapaththu, K.S.D., Asaeda, T., Yamamuro, M. and Kamiya, H., "Effects of water turbulence on plant, sediment and water quality in reed (Phragmites Australis) community", Bratislava, Vol. 36, No. 1, (2017), 1-9. (
18.   London, K, and Wright, D.B., Factorial design, Encyclopedia of survey research methods, Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications Inc., USA, (2011). (
19.   Jafary, T., Al-Mamun, A., Alhimali, H., Baawain, M.S., Rahman, S., Tarpeh, W.A., Dhar, B.R. and Kim, B.H., "Novel two-chamber tubular microbial desalination cell for bioelectricity production, wastewater treatment and desalination with focus on self-generated pH control", Desalination,Vol. 481, (2020), 114358. (
20.   Cao, X., Huang, X., Liang, P., Xiao, K., Zhuo, Y., Zhang, X. and Logan, B.E., "A new method for water desalination using microbial desalination cells", Environmental Science Technology, Vol. 43, (2009), 7148-7152. (
21.   Whang, L.M., Liu, P.W.G., Ma, C.C. and Cheng, S.S., "Application of rhamnolipid and surfactin for enhanced diesel biodegradation–Effects of pH and ammonium addition", Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 164, (2009), 1045-1050. (
22.   Nickzad, A. and Deziel, E., "The involvement of rhamnolipids in microbial cell adhesion and biofilm development–An approach for control?", Letters in Applied Microbiology, Vol.58, (2014), 447-453. (
23.   Silva, S.S., Carvalho, J.W.P., Aires, C.P. and Nitschke, M., "Disruption of Staphylococcus aureus biofilms using rhamnolipid biosurfactants", Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 100,No. 10, (2017), 7873. (http//
24.   Yang, E., Mi-Jin, C., Kyoung-Yeol, K., Kyu-Jung, C. and In, S.K., "Effect of initial salt concentrations on cell performance and distribution of internal resistance in microbial desalination cells", Environmental Technology, Vol. 36, No. 7, (2014), 852-860. (
25.   Mehanna, M., Saito, T., Yan, J., Hickner, M., Cao, X., Huang, X. and Logan, B.E., "Using microbial desalination cells to reduce water salinity prior to reverse osmosis", Energy and Environmental Science, Vol. 3, (2010), 1114-1120. (
26.   Kokabian, B. and Gude, V.G., "Sustainable photosynthetic biocathode in microbial desalination cells", Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol. 262, (2015), 958-965. (
27.   Oh, S., Min, B. and Logan, B. E., "Cathode Performance as a factor in electricity generation in microbial fuel cells", Environmental Science Technology, Vol. 38, No. 18, (2004), 4900-4904. ( CCC: $27.50).
28.   Guang, L., Ato Koomson, D., Jingyu, H., Ewusi-Mensah, D. and Miwomunyuie, N., "Performance of exoelectrogenic bacteria used in microbial desalination cell technology", International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 17, (2020), 1121. (