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Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 57 No 11 pp 1757–1762 © IWA Publishing 2008 doi:10.2166/wst.2008.043

Effect of the type of ion exchange membrane on performance, ion transport, and pH in biocatalyzed electrolysis of wastewater

R. A. Rozendal, T. H. J. A. Sleutels, H. V. M. Hamelers and C. J. N. Buisman

Sub-Department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, Bomenweg 2, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV, Wageningen, The Netherlands Tel.: +31 (0)317 483447 Fax: +31 (0)317 482108 bert.hamelers@wur.nl
Wetsus, centre for sustainable water technology, Agora 1, P.O. Box 1113, 8900 CC, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands


Previous studies have shown that the application of cation exchange membranes (CEMs) in bioelectrochemical systems running on wastewater can cause operational problems. In this paper the effect of alternative types of ion exchange membrane is studied in biocatalyzed electrolysis cells. Four types of ion exchange membranes are used: (i) a CEM, (ii) an anion exchange membrane (AEM), (iii) a bipolar membrane (BPM), and (iv) a charge mosaic membrane (CMM). With respect to the electrochemical performance of the four biocatalyzed electrolysis configurations, the ion exchange membranes are rated in the order AEM > CEM > CMM > BPM. However, with respect to the transport numbers for protons and/or hydroxyl ions (tH/OH) and the ability to prevent pH increase in the cathode chamber, the ion exchange membranes are rated in the order BPM > AEM > CMM > CEM.

Keywords: BEAMR; biocatalyzed electrolysis; hydrogen; ion exchange membrane; MFC; microbial fuel cell

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