• Summary

    The exponential demand for energy and the environmental pollution that results from the reliance 
    on fossil fuels represent a great challenge to humanity. Additionally, great volumes of wastes such 
    as food waste, agricultural waste and animal manure can be generated annually and require proper 
    management. Traditional management approaches of solid wastes such as landfilling, and 
    incineration can contaminate soil, air and groundwater. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a technique 
    that can harness natural resources (e.g., biomass waste) to generate biogas and digestate. The 
    generated biogas can be used as an energy source and digestate can be employed as a biofertilizer 
    and replace chemical fertilizers. The mono-digestion of wastes cannot achieve efficient anaerobic 
    digestion due to the unsuitable C/N ratio. In this work, the co-digestion by adding different wastes 
    in anaerobic digestion process can be attained to achieve high biogas production rate due to the 
    appropriate C/N ratio, balanced nutrients, and high buffer capacity. The generated methane from 
    the anaerobic digestion process has lower energy content compared to hydrogen. Additionally, the 
    produced biogas includes some impurities (e.g., H2S) which requires separation. Traditional 
    techniques used for the production of H2 such as steam reforming of methane, coal gasification 
    and partial oxidation have some shortcomings such as the release of high volumes of greenhouse 
    gases and the high energy consumption. Thus, in the proposed work, microbial electrolysis cell 
    can be integrated in anaerobic digestion process (AD-MEC) to efficiently reduce solids, generate 
    H2 and improve the efficiency and stability. In the hybrid system, low voltage can be applied to 
    AD leading to the oxidation of organic waste via the anodic bacterial consortia and the generation 
    of protons and electrons. Then, electrons can be transferred to the cathode electrode via the circuit
    wire to generate H2 at the cathode. Further, an ion exchange membrane will be introduced to MEC 
    to achieve the charge balance and prevent the consumption of the generated H2 by methanogens, 
    thereby maximizing the production rate of hydrogen. Different electrode materials will be tested 
    to specify the best electrode material. Different doses of biochar prepared from agricultural wastes
    will be added to AD-MEC to show the effect of biochar on hydrogen production rate. On the other 
    hand, the discharged digestate from AD-MEC will be characterized to check its properties to be 
    used as a biofertilizer for improving the soil quality. A feasibility study will be performed to check 
    the profitability of the hybrid system. The expected low-cost, high H2 production rate, maximum 
    solid reduction and profits via microbial electrolysis cell coupled with anaerobic digestion can 
    encourage decision makers to apply this technique on a wider scale to overcome the problems of 
    energy and waste management. 

  • Achievements

  • List of Publications from the Project

  • Partners

    • Prof. Cesar Torres,
  • Project Members

  • Project Leaders

  • Project PI

    Shereen Ali Elagroudy

  • Faculty

    Faculty of Engineering

  • Research Group

    Egypt Solid Waste Management Center of Excellence

  • Funding Agency

    United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • Funding Program

    Development Innovation Ventures

  • Start Date


  • End Date


  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Project website