Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 30, pp 31522–31536 | Cite as

Boron (B) removal and bioelectricity captured from irrigation water using engineered duckweed-microbial fuel cell: effect of plant species and vegetation structure

  • Onur Can TürkerEmail author
  • Anıl Yakar
  • Cengiz Türe
  • Çağdaş Saz
Research Article


Boron (B) in the irrigation water can be hazardous to human beings and other aquatic or terrestrial organisms when B concentration exceeds a certain level. More importantly, B removal from irrigation water is relatively difficult using conventional processes. In the present experiment, an innovative treatment model based on monoculture and polyculture duckweed wastewater treatment modules was tested for B-rich irrigation water purification and bioelectricity harvesting. Different modules were designed using Lemna gibba L., Lemna minor L., and their combination in order to determine the most optimal duckweed species and vegetation structure for B removal process and bioelectricity generation in a module. In this respect, the module with a monoculture of Lemna gibba achieved the highest net B removal efficiency (71%) when it was exposed to 4 mg/L B (initial concentration). However, B removal efficiencies from all modules decreased when the initial B concentrations reached up to 4 mg/L in the irrigation water. The highest bioelectricity production was measured as 1.04 V with 17783 mWatt/m2 power density at a current density of 44.06 mA/m2 for module with Lemna gibba in monoculture through sacrificial magnesium anode. Specifically, both monocultures and polyculture removed considerable amounts of organic matter from irrigation water. However, biomass production and total chlorophyll (a + b) concentrations of duckweeds significantly decreased when they were exposed to 32 mg/L B in the irrigation water samples. Consequently, our modules present a holistic perspective to the prevention B toxicity problems in agricultural zones, and are a sustainable strategy for farmers or agricultural experts to produce bioelectricity by a cost-effective and eco-technological method.


Irrigation water Boron removal Duckweeds Microbial fuel cell Bioelectricity harvesting 



We thank Dr. Beth Middleton in the USGS (United States Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center) for her comments on earlier versions of the manuscript and language improvement.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6285_MOESM1_ESM.docx (98 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 98.3 kb)


  1. Abourached C, English MJ, Liu H (2016) Wastewater treatment by microbial fuel cell (MFC) prior irrigation water reuse. J Clean Prod 137:144–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akcay H, Oguz A, Karapire C (2003) Study of heavy metal pollution and speciation in Buyak Menderes and Gediz river sediments. Water Res 37(4):813–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bhuiyan MA, Parvez L, Islam M, Dampare SB, Suzuki S (2010) Heavy metal pollution of coal mine-affected agricultural soils in the northern part of Bangladesh. J Hazard Mater 173(1-3):384–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen Z, Wu S, Braeckevelt M, Paschke H, Kästner M, Köser H, Kuschk P (2012) Effect of vegetation in pilot-scale horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands treating sulphate rich groundwater contaminated with a low and high chlorinated hydrocarbon. Chemosphere 89(6):724–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Doherty L, Zhao Y, Zhao X, Wang W (2015b) Nutrient and organics removal from swine slurry with simultaneous electricity generation in an alum sludge-based constructed wetland incorporating microbial fuel cell technology. Chem Eng J 266:74–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Doherty L, Zhao Y, Zhao X, Hu Y, Hao X, Xu L, Liu R (2015a) A review of a recently emerged technology: constructed wetland–microbial fuel cells. Water Res 85:38–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grattan S, Diaz F, Pedrero F, Vivaldi G (2015) Assessing the suitability of saline wastewaters for irrigation of Citrus spp.: emphasis on boron and specific-ion interactions. Agric Water Manag 157:48–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gür N, Türker OC, Böcük H (2016) Toxicity assessment of boron (B) by Lemna minor L. and Lemna gibba L. and their possible use as model plants for ecological risk assessment of aquatic ecosystems with boron pollution. Chemosphere 157:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hasenmueller EA, Criss RE (2013) Multiple sources of boron in urban surface waters and groundwaters. Sci Total Environ 447:235–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hilal N, Kim G, Somerfield C (2011) Boron removal from saline water: a comprehensive review. Desalination 273(1):23–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Igra AM, Harari F, Lu Y, Casimiro E, Vahter M (2016) Boron exposure through drinking water during pregnancy and birth size. Environ Int 95:54–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kadam SK, Watharkar AD, Chandanshive VV, Khandare RV, Jeon B-H, Jadhav JP, Govindwar SP (2018) Co-planted floating phyto-bed along with microbial fuel cell for enhanced textile effluent treatment. J Clean Prod 203:788–798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Krishna KB, Polprasert C (2008) An integrated kinetic model for organic and nutrient removal by duckweed-based wastewater treatment (DUBWAT) system. Ecol Eng 34(3):243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Laçin B, Taştan BE, Dönmez G (2015) Detection of boron removal capacities of different microorganisms in wastewater and effective removal process. Water Sci Technol 72(10):1832–1839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liu C, Gu W, Dai Z, Li J, Jiang H, Zhang Q (2018) Boron accumulation by Lemna minor L. under salt stress. Sci Rep 8(1):8954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marín CMD-C, Oron G (2007) Boron removal by the duckweed Lemna gibba: a potential method for the remediation of boron-polluted waters. Water Res 41(20):4579–4584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nable RO, Bañuelos GS, Paull JG (1997) Boron toxicity. Plant Soil 193(1-2):181–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Oon Y-L, Ong S-A, Ho L-N, Wong Y-S, Dahalan FA, Oon Y-S, Lehl HK, Thung W-E, Nordin N (2017) Role of macrophyte and effect of supplementary aeration in up-flow constructed wetland-microbial fuel cell for simultaneous wastewater treatment and energy recovery. Bioresour Technol 224:265–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Oon Y-L, Ong S-A, Ho L-N, Wong Y-S, Oon Y-S, Lehl HK, Thung W-E (2015) Hybrid system up-flow constructed wetland integrated with microbial fuel cell for simultaneous wastewater treatment and electricity generation. Bioresour Technol 186:270–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Priya A, Avishek K, Pathak G (2012) Assessing the potentials of Lemna minor in the treatment of domestic wastewater at pilot scale. Environ Monit Assess 184(7):4301–4307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sánchez Villavicencio, M., Álvarez Silva, C. and Miranda Arce, G. (2007) Boron toxicity in Lemna gibba. Hidrobiologica 17(Su1).Google Scholar
  22. Saz Ç, Türe C, Türker OC, Yakar A (2018) Effect of vegetation type on treatment performance and bioelectric production of constructed wetland modules combined with microbial fuel cell (CW-MFC) treating synthetic wastewater. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25(9):8777–8792 1-16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schoderboeck L, Mühlegger S, Losert A, Gausterer C, Hornek R (2011) Effects assessment: Boron compounds in the aquatic environment. Chemosphere 82(3):483–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shantaram A, Beyenal H, Veluchamy RRA, Lewandowski Z (2005) Wireless sensors powered by microbial fuel cells. Environ Sci Technol 39(13):5037–5042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shi W, Wang L, Rousseau DP, Lens PN (2010) Removal of estrone, 17α-ethinylestradiol, and 17ß-estradiol in algae and duckweed-based wastewater treatment systems. Environ Sci Pollut Res 17(4):824–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stottmeister U, Wießner A, Kuschk P, Kappelmeyer U, Kästner M, Bederski O, Müller R, Moormann H (2003) Effects of plants and microorganisms in constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. Biotechnol Adv 22(1-2):93–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Strik DP, Snel JF, Buisman CJ (2008) Green electricity production with living plants and bacteria in a fuel cell. Int J Energy Res 32(9):870–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Surdyk N, Cary L, Blagojevic S, Jovanovic Z, Stikic R, Vucelic-Radovic B, Zarkovic B, Sandei L, Pettenati M, Kloppmann W (2010) Impact of irrigation with treated low quality water on the heavy metal contents of a soil-crop system in Serbia. Agric Water Manag 98(3):451–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tanaka M, Fujiwara T (2008) Physiological roles and transport mechanisms of boron: perspectives from plants. Pflügers Archiv-Eur J Physiol 456(4):671–677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tatar ŞY, Öbek E (2014) Potential of Lemna gibba L. and Lemna minor L. for accumulation of boron from secondary effluents. Ecol Eng 70:332–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Türker OC (2018) Simultaneous boron (B) removal and electricity generation from domestic wastewater using duckweed-based wastewater treatment reactors coupled with microbial fuel cell. J Environ Manag 228:20–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Türker OC, Baran T (2017) Evaluation and application of an innovative method based on various chitosan composites and Lemna gibba for boron removal from drinking water. Carbohydr Polym 166:209–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Türker OC, Türe C, Yakar A, Saz Ç (2017a) Engineered wetland reactors with different media types to treat drinking water contaminated by boron (B). J Clean Prod 168:823–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Türker OC, Yakar A, Gür N (2017b) Bioaccumulation and toxicity assessment of irrigation water contaminated with boron (B) using duckweed (Lemna gibba L.) in a batch reactor system. J Hazard Mater 324:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Uluisik I, Karakaya HC, Koc A (2017) The importance of boron in biological systems. J Trace Elem Med Biol 45:156–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Verma R, Suthar S (2014) Synchronized urban wastewater treatment and biomass production using duckweed Lemna gibba L. Ecol Eng 64:337–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wei B, Yang L (2010) A review of heavy metal contaminations in urban soils, urban road dusts and agricultural soils from China. Microchem J 94(2):99–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wolska J, Bryjak M (2013) Methods for boron removal from aqueous solutions—a review. Desalination 310:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yadav AK, Dash P, Mohanty A, Abbassi R, Mishra BK (2012) Performance assessment of innovative constructed wetland-microbial fuel cell for electricity production and dye removal. Ecol Eng 47:126–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang D-H, Webster J, Adam Z, Lindahl M, Andersson B (1998) Induction of acclimative proteolysis of the light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b protein of photosystem II in response to elevated light intensities. Plant Physiol 118(3):827–834CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Onur Can Türker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anıl Yakar
    • 2
  • Cengiz Türe
    • 2
  • Çağdaş Saz
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Science and Letters, Department of BiologyAksaray UniversityAksarayTurkey
  2. 2.Faculty of Science, Department of BiologyEskişehir Technical UniversityEskişehirTurkey

Personalised recommendations