Domestic wastewater hydrolysis and lipolysis during start-up in anaerobic digesters and microbial fuel cells at moderate temperatures

  • E. PetropoulosEmail author
  • B. Shamurad
  • K. Acharya
  • S. Tabraiz
Original Paper


Raw wastewater hydrolysis rates during start-up in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, seeded with a mesophilic inoculum from a digester, were compared at moderate temperatures (27.5 ℃ and 8 ℃). Temperature drop affected both the lipids and carbohydrates hydrolysis rates but not necessarily the protein removal rates (temperature-independent rates of MFC), which were significantly influenced from treatment alteration (AD to MFC). MFC showed robust proteolysis at low temperature compared to AD; the latter seems to have a higher potential at warmer conditions. A lipases activity assay showed that although at 27.5 ℃ both AD and MFC are likely to hydrolyse lipids, the latter has a higher lipolysis potential at low temperatures. Preliminary community structure analysis showed that the switch from AD to MFC alters the bacterial community by 15% with the MFC showing higher diversification; temperature decrease, though, alters the community by 40%. Key organisms that appear to be favoured at the MFC set-ups are Geobacteriaceae, taxa likely related to the hydrolytic capacity of this set-up.


Cold-adapted Hydrolysis Lipolysis Low-temperature wastewater treatment Microbial fuel cells 



This work funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK (Grant reference EP/G032033/1). The authors would also like to thank Mr. Kangxu Wang for his assistance with the chemical–molecular tests and Dr. Jan Dolfing for reviewing the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13762_2019_2426_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringNewcastle UniversityNewcastleEngland, UK

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