Application of microbial electrolysis cells to treat spent yeast from an alcoholic fermentation

Ornella Sosa-Hernández, Sudeep C. Popat, Prathap Parameswaran, Gibrán Sidney Alemán-Nava, Cesar Torres, Germán Buitrón, Roberto Parra-Saldívar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Spent yeast (SY), a major challenge for the brewing industry, was treated using a microbial electrolysis cell to recover energy. Concentrations of SY from bench alcoholic fermentation and ethanol were tested, ranging from 750 to 1500mgCOD/L and 0 to 2400mgCOD/L respectively. COD removal efficiency (RE), coulombic efficiency (CE), coulombic recovery (CR), hydrogen production and current density were evaluated. The best treatment condition was 750mgCOD/LSY+1200mgCOD/L ethanol giving higher COD RE, CE, CR (90±1%, 90±2% and 81±1% respectively), as compared with 1500mgCOD/LSY (76±2%, 63±7% and 48±4% respectively); ethanol addition was significantly favorable (p value=0.011), possibly due to electron availability and SY autolysis. 1500mgCOD/LSY+1200mgCOD/L ethanol achieved higher current density (222.0±31.3A/m3) and hydrogen production (2.18±0.66 LH2/day/LReactor) but with lower efficiencies (87±2% COD RE, 71.0±.4% CE). Future work should focus on electron sinks, acclimation and optimizing SY breakdown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • COD removal
  • Coulombic efficiency
  • Hydrogen
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Spent yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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