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Integrated and solar-driven bioelectrochemical systems for electricity and H2 production from co-digestion of crude glycerol and wastewater from citrus processing industry

Grant number: 19/00463-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2019
Effective date (End): March 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Sanitary Engineering
Principal Investigator:Maria Valnice Boldrin
Grantee:Lilian Danielle de Moura Torquato
Home Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Araraquara. Araraquara , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50945-4 - INCT 2014: National Institute for Alternative Technologies of Detection, Toxicological Evaluation and Removal of Micropollutants and Radioactivies, AP.TEM


The citrus cultures and the biodiesel production are essential activities for Brazilian's economic and social development, especially, for São Paulo state. However, these processes generate huge amounts of effluent and waste (glycerol), which are rich in biodegradable organic matter. This property can cause serious environmental impacts if they are inappropriately. On the other hand, make them into excellent substrates for biological production of H2, electricity and chemical compounds of high added-value through dark fermentation process, which associated with new bioelectrochemical systems (bio-photoelectrochemical cell-BPEC and Photo-Microbial Fuel Cell-PMFC) enable the achievement of greater energy efficiency and versatility. The innovation brought by this proposal is in the co-digestion of these residues, with the use of mixed cultures (sludge) from different wastewater treatment systems as source of inoculum, besides the use of low-cost semiconductor materials and sunlight. With the integration of different areas of knowledge, it is expected to determine the most appropriate operating conditions for the application of the proposed bioelectrochemical processes to reach higher yields in the production of H2 and electricity. In addition, it is expected to obtain a high performance of the solar-driven photocathode in MEC, and that it will be able to self-sustaining H2 production. Therefore, with the scientific knowledge obtained during this research, it is intended to contribute to the future application of these processes in a large scale in a more efficient and sustainable way, which can be a very promising alternative for the local energy supply, reducing the operational costs within the own generating facilities.