Enzyme catalyzed electricity-driven water softening system
Hardness in water, which is caused by divalent cations such as calcium and magnesium ions, presents a major water quality problem. Because hard water must be softened before use in residential applications, there is great interest in the saltless water softening process because, unlike ion exchange softeners, it does not introduce additional ions into water. In this study, a saltless hardness removal driven by bioelectrochemical energy produced through enzymatic oxidation of glucose was proposed and investigated. Glucose dehydrogenase was coated on a carbon electrode to catalyze glucose oxidation in the presence of NAD+ as a cofactor/mediator and methylene green as an electrocatalyst. The results showed that electricity generation stimulated hardness removal compared with non-electricity conditions. The enzymatic water softener worked upon a 6 h batch operation per day for eight days, and achieved an average hardness removal of 46% at a high initial concentration of 800 mg/L as CaCO3. More hardness was removed at a lower initial concentration. For instance, at 200 mg/L as CaCO3 the enzymatic water softener removed 76.4 ± 4.6% of total hardness. The presence of magnesium ions decreased hardness removal because of its larger hydrated radius than calcium ions. The enzymatic water softener removed 70–80% of total hardness from three actual hard water samples. These results demonstrated a proof-of-concept that enzyme catalyzed electricity generation can be used to soften hard water.
► Hard water can be softened by bioenergy produced by enzymatic oxidation of glucose. ► Enzymatic water softener can remove a significant amount of hardness. ► The presence of multiple cations lowers the hardness removal. ► Bioanode limits the performance of the enzymatic water softener.
Journal: Enzyme and Microbial Technology - Volume 51, Issues 6–7, 10 December 2012, Pages 396–401