A microbial fuel cell configured for the remediation of recalcitrant pollutants in soil environment
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A pristine soil environment supports a healthy soil biodiversity, which is often polluted with recalcitrant compounds. The bioelectrochemical remediation of the contaminated soils using bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) is gaining significant attention with respect to the restoration of the soil ecosystem. In this direction, a microbial fuel cell (MFC, an application of BES), was employed for the treatment of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs) in a soil microenvironment at three ranges of pollution (loading conditions-320, 590 and 840 mg TPH per L). TPHs degraded effectively in the soil-electrode vicinity in the range of 158 mg TPHR per L (320 mg TPH per L) and 356 mg TPHR per L (840 mg TPH per L). The study also demosntrated a maximum bioelectrogenesis of 286.7 mW m-2 (448 mV at 100 ) at the highest TPH loading concentration studied (840 mg TPH per L). The conditions prevailing in the soil MFC also facilitated the removal of sulfates (114 mg SO42- per L; 62.64%) and the removal of total dissolved solids (910 mg TDS per L, 12.08%) at an 840 mg TPH per L loading condition. The pH of the outlet wastewater prevailing in the mild alkaline range of 7.6 and 8.4, along with improved sulfate and TPH removal in the respective conditions suggested suitable conditions for sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). This study also signified the sustainability of the process for the effective treatment of hydrocarbon contaminated soil that also generates green energy.