Olive mill wastewater treatment in single-chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cells

Hakan Bermek*, Tunc Catal, S. Süha Akan, Mehmet Sefa Ulutaş, Mert Kumru, Mine Özgüven, Hong Liu, Beraat Özçelik, Alper Tunga Akarsubaşı

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Olive mill wastewaters create significant environmental issues in olive-processing countries. One of the most hazardous groups of pollutants in these wastewaters is phenolic compounds. Here, olive mill wastewater was used as substrate and treated in single-chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cells. Olive mill wastewater yielded a maximum voltage of 381 mV on an external resistance of 1 kΩ. Notable decreases in the contents of 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid, tyrosol, gallic acid and p-coumaric acid were detected. Chemical oxygen demand removal rates were 65 % while removal of total phenolics by the process was lower (49 %). Microbial community analysis during the olive mill wastewater treating MFC has shown that both exoelectrogenic and phenol-degrading microorganisms have been enriched during the operation. Brevundimonas-, Sphingomonas- and Novosphingobium-related phylotypes were enriched on the anode biofilm, while Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteriodetes dominated the cathode biofilm. As one of the novel studies, it has been demonstrated that recalcitrant olive mill wastewaters could be treated and utilized for power generation in microbial fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1185
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


Acknowledgments This study was supported by Istanbul Technical University Scientific Research Foundation and the U.S. Department of Transportation (the Western Regional Sun Grant Initiative).

FundersFunder number
Istanbul Technical University Scientific Research Foundation
U.S. Department of Transportation


    • Electricity generation
    • Microbial dynamics
    • Microbial fuel cell
    • Olive mill wastewater
    • Phenolic compounds biodegradation


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