Application of Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) for Pharmaceutical Wastewater Treatment: An Overview and Future Perspectives

Bhim Sen Thapa, Soumya Pandit, Sanchita Bipin Patwardhan, Sakshi Tripathi, Abhilasha Singh Mathuriya, Piyush Kumar Gupta, Ram Bharosay Lal, Tanmoy Roy Tusher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Pharmaceutical wastewater (PWW) is rapidly growing into one of the world’s most serious environmental and public health issues. Existing wastewater treatment systems carry numerous loopholes in supplying the ever-increasing need for potable water resulting from rises in population, urbanization, and industrial growth, and the volume of wastewater produced is growing each day. At present, conventional treatment methods, such as coagulation, sedimentation, oxidation, membrane filtration, flocculation, etc., are used to treat PWW. In contrast to these, the application of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for decontaminating PWW can be a promising technology to replace these methods. MFC technologies have become a trending research topic in recent times. MFCs have also garnered the interest of researchers worldwide as a promising environmental remediation technique. This review extensively discusses the flaws in standalone conventional processes and the integration of MFCs to enhance electricity production and contaminant removal rates, especially with respect to PWW. This article also summarizes the studies reported on various antibiotics and wastes from pharmaceutical industries treated by MFCs, and their efficiencies. Furthermore, the review explains why further research is needed to establish the actual efficiency of MFCs to achieve sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective wastewater treatment. A brief on technoeconomic impacts has also been made to provide a glimpse of the way these technologies might replace present-day conventional methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8379
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • antibiotics
  • biofilm
  • electroactive bacteria
  • energy production
  • microbial fuel cell
  • pharmaceuticals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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