Bioelectrochemical chain elongation to caproate

The world population is growing and the amount of arable land becomes scarce. Therefore, solutions are needed for a more efficient use of the available land and water for the production of biochemicals. Additionally, the emission of CO2 should be reduced to reach the climate goals. These two issues can be combined in a process where CO2 is converted to more useful products.

In this project, CO2 is fed to a system with bacteria. These bacteria convert the CO2 into fatty acids, which can be used as animal feed additive or as precursor for fuels. The bacteria need energy for this conversion. In this “bioelectrochemical system”, an electrical current forms the energy source for the bacteria. The electricity is generated from a water splitting reaction at the “anode” and then transported to the “cathode” where the bacteria grow on carbon felt.

Although the system works, optimizations are required to improve the system for use in practice. In this project, the cathode is studied in more detail. The composition of the bacteria on the cathode and their role in system optimization are studied. Furthermore, the role of metals as catalysts is investigated. By better understanding these factors we can develop new ways to steer the bioelectrochemical processes.

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