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Aims: This study aims to define criteria for the main physical and chemical characteristics of the environmental niches populated with electrochemically active microorganisms, capable to perform anaerobic respiration and potentially used in Bio-electrochemical systems such as Microbial Fuel Cells.
Study Design: In this study, specific parameters of the environment in water bodies (such as lakes, streams etc.) and their bottom layers are analyzed. The main parameters of interest include the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water column, the organic matter content in the sediments and the presence of alternative electron acceptors (such as iron and manganese ions) to support anaerobic respiration. Sediment microorganisms are characterized for their electrochemical and biodegradation activity.
Place and Duration of Study: The tested sediment and water samples were collected from "Poda" Protected Site located on the outfall of Lake “Uzungeren”, south of City of Burgas, Bulgaria.
Methodology: The samples were analyzed employing TGA, ICP and microbiological methods focusing on chemical, physical and biological conditions available for anaerobic respiration in this ecological niche.
Results: The results show very low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (from 1.4 to 2.2 mg/dm3 in the various locations). The conductivity and the pH values measured were relatively high and the mean values obtained are 5230 μS/cm and 8.2 respectively. The sediment samples demonstrated very high organic matter content (22.5% of the dry mass) and relatively high levels of iron and manganese.
Microbial fuel cell powered by mixed bacterial culture isolated from the tested sediment samples demonstrated stable performance reaching power density of 3.5 W/m2 and the COD removal rate of 42 mgO2/dm3 per day.
Conclusion: The result confirms the initial hypothesis that electrochemically active microorganisms are available in environments with high concentration of organic matter, iron and manganese in combination with low availability of dissolved oxygen. Mixed culture of anaerobic bacteria isolated from the tested sediment sample was successfully implemented to power Microbial Fuel Cell.
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