A microbial fuel cell system with intimately coupled photocatalytic-electrogenic anode (photocatalytic-MFC) was proposed for the synergetic degradation of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (2,4,6-TCP) which has a structure of three chlorine groups connecting to a phenol ring and is well recognized as a recalcitrant pollutant for its high toxicity, bioaccumulation and persistence. The photocatalytic-electrogenic anode was prepared by coating mpg-C3N4 on a carbon felt anode, followed by inoculating with municipal sewage and acclimating with 2,4,6-TCP at gradient concentrations. Improved TCP degradation was achieved, showing 79.3% of TCP removal in 10 h with an original concentration of 200 mg L−1, which was higher than that obtained with the unilluminated MFC (66.0%) and the photocatalytic-only process (56.1%). The coupled photocatalytic-electrogenic process demonstrated different degradation pathways compared with the photocatalytic-only process, with one open-chain compound (2-chloro-4-keto-2-hexenedioic acid, 2-CMA) detected in the photocatalytic-MFC system. Microbial community analysis revealed that Pseudomonas, instead of Geobacter observed in the unilluminated MFC bioanode, dominated in the photocatalytic-electrogenic anode MFC biofilm, which might be responsible for enhanced current generation in the coupled system. In addition, biofilm rich with Rhodococcus on air-cathode was also responsible for the enhanced TCP removal. This research provides an efficient strategy for the treatment of wastewater with recalcitrant contaminants by intimate-coupling of the photocatalytic and the electrogenic processes.
- Coupled photocatalytic-electrogenic anode
- Microbial fuel cell
- Wastewater treatment