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Physiology of electrochemically active bacteria in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs)

  • 3 September, 2012
  • Wageningen University, Microbiology
  • prof. dr ir AJM Stams
  • dr CM Pluggedr ir THJA Sleutels

Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) have recently emerged as a promising technology to produce bioenergy and bioproducts from wastewater. BES relies on electrochemically active bacteria and their capacity of extracellular electron transfer (EET) to/from the electrode. Therefore, to improve the performance of a BES, apart from the hardware optimization like the BES cell design, optimization of catalytic activities of the bacteria involved is required.
So far, many studies focused on how electrons are transferred to/from the electron acceptors/donors in BES and the factors controlling this process. However, some of the issues such as the function of the interspecies electron transfer in mixed cultures and direct electron transfer from complex compounds still remain unraveled. To address these issues and exploit the high potential of microbial electron transfer in BES, we need a better understanding of key microbial players in bioanode/biocathode and their physiological function in EET.
In this project, we will analyze microbial communities active in the bioanode in MFC and the biocathode in MEC to get insight into the predominant/novel key players, isolate them and study their physiological and genetic features to unravel and steer their behavior in interaction with electrodes. We will apply proteomics to identify key enzymes/proteins involved in EET and to determine the EET mechanisms. This will be done with existing known electrochemically active bacteria as well as with new isolates. We are convinced that this knowledge will result in more efficient strategies to enhance the applicability of BES.


Monir Mollaei

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