Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Gude, Veera Gnaneswar

Committee Member

Magbanua, Benjamin S.

Committee Member

French, William Todd

Committee Member

Parajuli, Prem B.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Complete embargo for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Partial nitritation combined with the anaerobic ammonium oxidation (Anammox) process offers a way of replacing the conventional nitrogen removal process of nitrification-denitrification, lowering the need for oxygen and chemical input, as well as reducing the production of sludge. However, as a by-product of the biochemical reaction driven by anammox bacteria, it produces nitrate-nitrogen (NO3- - N) (16-26% nitrogen removed), which is problematic. Microbial desalination cells (MDCs) are a promising technology capable of converting biodegradable organics into electricity (by electroactive bacteria), providing for simultaneous desalination, and wastewater treatment. Despite being a promising technology, MDCs have limitations. The first-proof of-concept of MDC was demonstrated using acetate as the organic source, expensive platinum as a catalyst, and ferricyanide as an electron acceptor in the cathode that makes MDC costly, environmentally unfriendly, and unsustainable. This research investigated the integration of the anammox and nitration processes in MDCs as a long-term biocatalyst/biocathode for sustainable and energy-efficient nitrogen removal and electricity generation. A series of experiments were designed and performed to evaluate the performance of the anammox process as a biocatalyst in MDCs. The results concluded that the anammox process can be used as a biocatalyst to accept electrons in MDCs producing 444 mW/m3 of power density and 84% of ammonium nitrogen removal. Furthermore, the concept of using a one-stage nitritation anammox process as a biocathode in MDC was evaluated and produced a maximum power output of 1007 mW/m3. Two configurations of anammox MDCs (anaerobic-anammox cathode MDC (AnAmmoxMDC) and nitritation-anammox cathode MDC (NiAmoxMDC) were compared with an air cathode MDC (CMDC), operated in fed-batch mode. The NiAmoxMDC showed better performance in terms of power production and nitrogen removal. The co-existence of aerobic ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and anammox bacteria in the same biocathode of single-stage NiAmoxMDC concluded the resource-efficient wastewater treatment. Furthermore, two-stage nitritation anammox as a biocathode in MDC was evaluated and proved to be energy-efficient bioelectrochemical wastewater treatment by producing 1500 mW/m3 (300 mW/m2) of maximum power output. This research provides the first proof of concept that nitritation-anammox biocathode can provide a sustainable and energy-efficient nitrogen removal along with desalination and bioelectricity generation.


National Science Foundation (NSF)

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023