BioBZ-process – Biological wastewater treatment to generate power

#Microbial fuel cell #electro biochemistry #wastewater #power #energy efficiency
Picture of a prototype of a microbial fuel cell shown at IFAT (Munich exhibition for wastewater treatment)
Prototype of a microbial fuel cell shown at IFAT 2022 (Munich exhibition for wastewater treatment)

New system approach in wastewater treatment with a microbial fuel cell (MFC), which generates electricity directly from wastewater with the help of microorganisms and thereby disintegrates substances contained in the water.

In the joint project "BioBZ", a novel system approach was pursued in order to enable the energy transition in wastewater treatment. The core of the developed system is a microbial fuel cell (MFC), which uses microorganisms to generate electricity directly from wastewater and breaks down organic substances in the process. This reduces the energy consumption and increases the efficiency of power generation, but also of cleaning. As part of the development of the MFC from the laboratory to the semi-industrial scale (scale-up factor approx. 1,500), several component and material developments were also carried out:

- Composite flat electrode made of electrically conductive polymer and graphite as anode for growth of electroactive microorganisms

- Catalyst mixture for optimized oxygen reduction at the cathode

- Concept and components for self-consumption-minimised control of the power yield

- Prototype for storing and using the microbially generated electricity. 

However, some further developments are necessary for the applicability of the method in practice. These essentially relate to the following requirements and have already been partially solved in the follow-up project Demo-BioBZ (

a) Non-clogging, low-maintenance continuous operation

b) Avoiding the drop in performance due to biofouling, scaling, catalyst poisoning

c) Protection of the electroactive biofilm

d) Treatment of larger quantities of waste water

e) Full stand-alone operation with TRL9 

The intent of the follow-up project is to build a demonstration-unit with a capacity of 200-250 EW on the wastewater treatment plant of Goslar.

Water resource: Wastewater
Type of product:
  • Technologies & processes
TRL: 7
    TRL (Technology Readiness Level)
  • TRL 1 - Basic principles observed
  • TRL 2 - Technology concept formulated
  • TRL 3 - Experimental proof of concept
  • TRL 4 - Technology validated in lab
  • TRL 5 - Technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 6 - Technology demonstrated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
  • TRL 7 - System prototype demonstration in operational environment
  • TRL 8 - System complete and qualified
  • TRL 9 - Actual system proven in operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies; or in space)
Application sector: Cities and municipalities, Industry, Water resource management
Funding measure: ERWAS
Project: BioBZ

Contact and partners

Logo Technical University of Clausthal - CUTEC Forschungszentrum
  • Technical University of Clausthal - CUTEC Forschungszentrum,
  • Leibnizstraße 23,
  • 38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Sievers

DVGW - Forschungsstelle am Engler-Bunte-Institut des Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Wasserchemie und Wassertechnologie,
Technical University of Clausthal - Institut für Chemische und Elektrochemische Verfahrenstechnik
University of Greifswald
Common-Link AG
Eisenhuth GmbH & Co. KG
Eurawasser Betriebsführungsgesellschaft mbH
Umwelttechnik & Anlagenbau GmbH Plauen

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