A three chamber bioelectrochemical system appropriate for in-situ remediation of nitrate-contaminated groundwater and its reaction mechanisms.


School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 10084, China. Electronic address: [Email]


A novel laboratory experiment of three chamber bioelectrochemical (surface water-sediment-groundwater, SSG) system was established in this study, which combined a sediment microbial fuel cell (SMFC) reactor and biofilm electrode reactor (BER) and was self-driven. Simulated groundwater was firstly used to explore the reaction mechanisms of this system. The simulated groundwater conditions were static and the surface water and the groundwater systems were isolated. The results showed that the SMFC continuously supplied a stable voltage of 622 mV ± 20 mV, driving the BER and the related nitrate removal process. Compared to the control systems, the SSG system had higher nitrate removal with a denitrification rate of 3.87 mg N/(L·h). In addition, the sediment organic matter in the SMFC reactor decreased by 66.2%. Based on the electrochemical analysis and microbial community analysis, the SMFC reactor and BER worked synergistically to enhance the performance of both reactors in this system. The presence of microorganisms accelerated the electron transfer efficiency throughout the system, and the microcurrent helped a more fixed community structure to develop and stimulated the growth of denitrifying bacteria. The dominant genera detected in the mature biofilm samples were all microorganisms common in soil and groundwater, indicating that this system may be environmentally friendly. The nitrate removal efficiency for actual groundwater was higher than that for the simulated groundwater, indicating that the elements in the actual groundwater promote the nitrate removal efficiency. These results indicate that the SSG system has the potential for in-situ nitrate bioremediation, with minimal maintenance and health risk.


Groundwater,In-situ remediation,Microbial community structure,Nitrate removal,Self-driven system,