Date of Award

Spring 2009

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jenna R Jambeck


Microbial fuel cells are a new technology that can be used for treating landfill leachate and simultaneously producing electricity. Three designs were tested in batch cycles using landfill leachate (908-3200 mg/L COD): a Square (995 mL), Circle (934 mL) and a Large Scale MFC (18.3 L). A total of seven cycles were completed for each the Square MFC and Circle MFC and two cycles for the Larger Scale MFC. Maximum power densities of 24-31 mW/m2 (653 mW/m3-824 mW/m3) were achieved using the Circle MFC and a maximum voltage of 635 mV was produced using the Larger Scale MFC. BOD, TOC, and Ammonia were removed at 50-72%, 17-53 %, and 7-69%, respectively. The Larger Scale MFC achieved 47-86% BOD removal, 51 % TOC removal and 60% ammonia reduction while operating over 52 days. These results demonstrate MFCs can be used to treat landfill leachate with the benefit of power generation.