Multi-walled carbon nanotubes enhance methanogenesis from diverse organic compounds in anaerobic sludge and river sediments

Ana J. Cavaleiro*, Andreia F. Salvador, Gilberto Martins, Cláudia C. Oliveira, Yuchen Liu, Valdo R. Martins, Ana Rita Castro, Olivia S.G.P. Soares, M.F.R. Pereira, Luciana Pereira, Alette A.M. Langenhoff, M.A. Pereira, Maria Madalena Alves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Conductive nanomaterials affect anaerobic digestion (AD) processes usually by improving methane production. Nevertheless, their effect on anaerobic communities, and particularly on specific trophic groups such as syntrophic bacteria or methanogens, is not extensively reported. In this work, we evaluate the effect of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) on the activity of two different anaerobic microbial communities: an anaerobic sludge and a river sediment. Methane production by anaerobic sludge was assessed in the presence of different MWCNT concentrations, with direct methanogenic substrates (acetate, hydrogen) and with typical syntrophic substrates (ethanol, butyrate). MWCNT accelerated the initial specific methane production rate (SMPR) from all compounds, with a more pronounced effect on the assays with acetate and butyrate, i.e., 2.1 and 2.6 times, respectively. In the incubations with hydrogen and ethanol, SMPR increased 1.1 and 1.2 times. Experiments with the river sediment were performed in the presence of MWCNT and MWCNT impregnated with 2% iron (MWCNT-Fe). Cumulative methane production was 10.2 and 4.5 times higher in the assays with MWCNT-Fe and MWCNT, respectively, than in the assays without MWCNT. This shows the high potential of MWCNT toward bioenergy production, in waste/wastewater treatment or ex situ bioremediation in anaerobic digesters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8184
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020


  • Anaerobic sludge
  • Methane
  • Multi-walled carbon nanotubes
  • Sediment
  • Syntrophic degradation


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